Almost daily, it seems, our social media platforms blow up with yet another story about why teachers are leaving the profession. We read reports by think tanks and policy centers, personal narratives from discouraged teachers—both new and veteran—and calls for change from professional organizations. Teachers are leaving in record numbers for many reasons, these sources tell us, but prime among them is this: Once respected as professionals, many teachers now feel as if their voices have been silenced—that their education, experience, and diligent commitment to students no longer have a place in the conversations about education. Standardized tests lead to standardized curricula and standardized teaching practices in far too many places. They create “teacher proof” approaches that ignore teacher creativity and contradict research based practices.Continue reading “Trending in 2020: Recognizing Teacher Professionalism and Expertise in Trying Times”
On the last day of my last class before beginning my first teaching job, the professor asked us if there were questions – perhaps things not addressed in class. My determined hand shot up. “What are we to do if we ask students to do something and they refuse?” This was not just my burning question – it was my biggest worry in the middle of the night. I was embarking on a high school position with over 150 students in my charge– how would a young woman who looked a lot like a teenager have any credibility with these students? Would they even do what I asked of them? What were my next steps if they did not comply? How long would I last? What if things spiral out of my control? What if I get fired?
The very nice professor became a bit flummoxed, stammered a bit, but no answer came forth. Fast forward: After teaching a jillion students, working with thousands of teachers in professional development, coaching educators, and being honored to witness fabulous work in countless classrooms, here’s what I know: It was the wrong question to ask. Rather than ask about mechanisms to control students – an impossible task – our focus is really: How can we ignite an intrinsic joy in learning that significantly reduces the need to manage, control, or even kick out kids?Continue reading “Back to School: Creating a Safe Learning Environment”
Blogger George Evans recently wrote a blog post called “In Defense of Slow” where he states that “many things in education are simply too fast…in this rush to cover content, to get through standards…we lose the heart and soul of what we should be there for.”
I connected with this instantly, as I’ve often thought and written about how cramming too much feedback into a single paper or too much content into a single lesson often leads to less learning. Sure, the amount covered by the teacher is more, but the amount ultimately retained by the students tends to be far less.Continue reading “Summer Reading: Fewer Books, Better”
As a high school English teacher, summer means one thing to me: reading for pleasure. Each May, I get giddy with the thought of the stack of books I plan to delve into during my two months off. Inevitably, I almost never reach my goal of getting through the whole stack. Sometimes it’s because my eyes are bigger than my timetable, sometimes it’s because I stumble upon different books throughout the summer I want to read more, and sometimes it’s because a book that seemed so promising turned out to be a slog that I can’t bear during summer days (War and Peace, I’m looking at you!). No matter the end result, at the beginning of every summer I try to build a stack that’s a mix of professional and pleasure reads that will inspire me for the coming school year, ones that span several categories aimed at broadening my horizons and challenging me as a reader and educator. Here are the categories and selections I’ve chosen for summer 2019.Continue reading “Summer Reading: A Stack of Choices in Multiple Genres”