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Super proud


As I was driving on the highway to get from one school to another last week, I suddenly found tears streaming down my face. And then they wouldn't stop. I was shocked. Awed. A sense of urgency and desperation clenched up in my chest. I was overwhelmed by a feeling. And it took me a second to realize that the crazy feeling that was making me cry, cry and cry while driving really, really fast down Expressway 83 was an overwhelming sense of possibility.

After all this time of working in education and believing and needing and working toward making great changes happen with student learning, I was seeing it happen. On a big scale. With first year teachers. Among teachers who struggled dearly for the first semester. At schools with administrative hang-ups, and students three, four, five, eight years below grade levels and 80% LEP populations. At schools with 54% drop-out rates. It is possible.

And these were MY teachers, my wonderful first- and second-year teachers who spent sleepless nights and countless meetings with me on backwards design, unit planning, lesson planning and assessment writing. These are my teachers who in their first months of teaching revamped their behavior systems, and revamped it again a month later when it backfired on them. These are my teachers who struggled for months, but had the humility and relentlessness to recognize their own weaknesses, seek help, and work tirelessly to retool their plans and teaching so their students could be where they are now. It is possible.

And where are they today? Their kids are mastering the TAKS Social Studies exam at 82% averages with scores comparable to those of students in high-income communities. They are mastering 83% averages on highly rigorous 9th grade world geography exams. They are analyzing poetry, writing descriptive personal narratives and they are able to do these things consistently and masterfully. Students lives are changing because of the work these teachers do. It is possible.

Not all of my teachers make the same level of measurable gains. That doesn't mean they aren't making an incredible difference in the life paths of students. But seeing and feeling the kind of gains that are possible among first- and second-year teachers makes me realize that it is so very possible to help all my teachers get to that even higher place. It is possible and it is necessary.


And then when they leave the classroom after a year or two, and you get a new batch of baby-teachers who don't know what they're doing, and you spend all those nights and weekends with them on backwards design and writing assessments and revamping behavior plans...and then those just-reaching-the-possibilities new teachers leave...and you start again... Is it really possibile under this model? Can you keep training new teachers, year after year? Isn't it an inefficient waste of your energy?

My job is almost the same as yours, I'm also a TFA alum, and while I see the potential and possibility you're seeing, I don't see it in a system that promotes a revolving door of brand new teachers. Perhaps because I'm an alum from the mid 90s and I've been looking for this possibility for a long time. I wonder how you'll feel a few years down the line, as those potentially great teachers are leaving for grad school and you're starting over again.

Wow!!!!!!!!!! I am so glad to hear how well your teachers are doing Jessica! I absolutely believe you are seeing those changes in your teachers and students. I'm sure you've instilled your relentless passion for helping every student you come in contact with into your teachers. I've had the honor of working with you and you are still an inspiration to me when I remember all the things we've done at the school in New Mexico. It is possible to make a change, and if that change is happening with 80% and above assessment scores, then you and your teachers have given those students a precious gift that no one can ever take away from them, even if it is for 1 or 2 years. Keep on training those teachers Jess!!!!!!!!!!!

Please help!! I want to be the best teacher that I can possibly be, but I'm stuck and getting a bad attitude.

The administration at my campus is very dysfunctional, someone is always trying to overpower the other. Gossip is rampant, to the point that I cannot trust anyone on campus with how I feel because I know they will eventually use it against me. Politics and back stabbing is the name of the game, and it seems as though everyone is in fear of loosing their job and seek to make anyone look bad to protect themselves.

I need advice, How do I cope in this environment?

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