The teacher is the single most important factor in raising student achievement. “Yes!” we thought. “We knew it and now we are vindicated! We will get the respect that we so rightly deserve. They will let us do what we know how to do!” The research was solid and data driven. It wasn’t just a touching story about that single super teacher. At last policymakers and pundits would acknowledge the importance of our contribution. Our expertise would be valued and our input sought. We were thrilled! We were naïve! We never saw the spin coming: “Soooo,” said those ...


“So, I guess you’re enjoying summer vacation! It must be nice to have three months off every summer, huh?” they say--They being just about everyone I know who is not a teacher. “Well, I’m looking forward to it, but I’m not quite through yet. I'll finish up July 2nd,” I reply. “Oh, I didn’t know you taught summer school,” they respond. “ I don’t, but I’m an eleven month employee and so I put in another two weeks at the end of the year and then before other teachers return in August. So actually, I ...


Anthony Cody asked, Do Teachers Lack Power and Self-Worth? after his mom tipped him to a New York Times interview with Suze Orman that said She has been reluctant to work on school curricula on personal finance, because she says students can’t learn empowerment from people who aren’t empowered, and teachers, she says, are too underpaid ever to have any real self-worth. Hummm….So, if self-worth is proportional to what we are paid, it would follow that rock stars and professional athletes would have no need of Prozac and those who do volunteer work would be candidates for ...


For many of us who work on a traditional school schedule, this is it—the last week of school. I regret that we don’t end it with all the same little traditions that used to mark the end of the year. In the past we would have Field Day and Awards Assembly. On the last day of school, classes would have picnics in the courtyards, and the teachers would all gather on the bus ramp to wave goodbye for the summer as the intercom system blasted, “Na na na na, Na na na na, Hey, hey goodbye.” Kids may ...


I was reading the Sunday paper, trying to wind down before I geared up for the last full week of school when I noticed Meredith Raimondi’s editorial essay entitled I’ve Got That Cap and Gown. Now About That Job… After four years at George Washington University, I expected that my life would magically come together. I was aware that we college graduates often struggle to figure out what to do, but now we're struggling just to find employment. Note to Meredith: We told you from the time you were in kindergarten “Set you sights high, work hard, and ...


My 8th graders are driving me nuts right now. “I ride an early bus, can I come in early to work before school?” “No, I have a leadership team meeting.” “Then can I come in during 7th period?” “I’m teaching 6th graders during 7th, and besides, you have a class then, remember?” “Well, then can I stay after school?” We are finishing sewing projects and most of my kids (and by the way, just over half of them are boys) hustle into the room to get started and have to be reminded several times when it’s time to ...


I have a younger man in my life. He’s 21—handsome, funny, sunny and bright. But last week, as we chatted, he was worried and trying hard to hang onto his positive outlook on life. Bryan just graduated from college with a degree in business, and he can’t find a job. Another young friend is 26. She completed her masters in public administration. She did internships and volunteer work and community organizing and more, but she may be moving home to job hunt. They are not alone. Yesterday I read about Michael Volpe. After relentlessly pounding the industrial ...


The lyrics of the old Guess Who song are morphing in my head: We've come undone We didn't know what he was headed for And once we knew what he was headed for It was too late He's come undone He found a mountain that was far too high And when he found out he couldn't fly It was too late It's too late He's gone too far He's lost the sun He's come undone Another school shooting and the question that haunts us all is “Why?” Here are some things that I noted: "He was a year or two ...


Today was the deadline for encumbering budget money. This week there are two after school meetings to be attended at the far end of the county. I am working on guest blogs for Public School Insights and the Center for Teacher Leadership . Over at Teacher Leaders Network we have a couple of group projects that I want to be part of. In the meantime, the last mid-quarter interim reports go out Wednesday. Our kids are prepping for the state assessment tests so I’m working around remediation pull outs and field trips. A colleague cried in my office today and ...


Schools Need Energy More than Experience. Wow, Jay Mathews presented me with a Class Struggle that I didn’t expect when he wrote Schools in poor neighborhoods having the most success are those put in the hands of talented principals given the power to hire and fire their staffs to enhance achievement, and who use those powers to create a building-wide commitment to improving learning through teamwork. Such principals pick new teachers not so much on their experience, but on their energy and focus and imagination. Says who? Exactly how was it determined that energetic inexperienced teachers were the critical ...


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