« My Momma Told Me | Main | Hi. »

Eat, Sleep and Breathe


(Or, why this is a top 5 list instead of a top 10 list)

Yesterday afternoon: after the soccer game, while the kids are playing on the woodpile in the backyard, I sit on the deck and finish reading chapters from Kiterunner assigned for AP Lang on Monday, then glance at an article from the Virginia Community Colleges faculty journal about moving from lecture to “learner-centered learning.”

Last night, around 10:30 p.m.: kids in bed, I change the rabbit’s cage and then mop the “man zone,” my unfinished basement office. Then sit and read “Graduation” (an excerpt from Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings), the assignment for the freshman composition class I’m teaching next Tuesday night at Northern Virginia Community College. Head up to bed with lesson ideas swirling in my head.

Last night, 12:34 a.m.: wake up because the dog is whining at the door. Go downstairs to let him out in the yard and, still half asleep, jot down lecture notes for Tuesday’s class on a napkin. Elements of personal narrative... point of view, plot vs structure, “flow” and direction, details that show instead of tell... remembering the NOVA article, I consider various ways to present the material... web and outline, assign topics to groups... go back to bed.

This morning, Sunday, 8:30 a.m.: head down to what should be a sparkling man zone to pen today’s screed, and discover that the dog was whining last night not just out of desperation, but also guilt. Clean up what didn’t make it to the yard and crack open the bible to read Standard XV. Such is the life of an aspiring artist of the profession.

Standard XV: Professional Community
Accomplished Early Adolescence/English Language Arts teachers contribute to the improvement of instructional programs, advancement of knowledge, and practice of their colleagues. (EA/ELA pg 65)

5. Through collaboration, we contribute to and gain from the practice of our colleagues, both at school and beyond.
4. We are team players who strengthen the school by developing strong lessons in our discipline and across the curriculum, and partnering with administrators or specialists to provide, for example, “custom-tailored instruction” to “properly identified students.”
3. We create a safe place for honest, open and appropriate communication, comforting students during difficult times (like the transition from middle to high school) and using our keen knowledge of human nature to differentiate between “typical angst of the adolescent” and true red flags.
2. We educate and learn from colleagues by training and mentoring new teachers, setting up staff development opportunities, presenting at workshops, serving on task forces, joining professional organizations, and, of course, publishing.

And the number one thing teachers do as members of their professional community?

1. We improve instruction, climate and the practice of ourselves and others through collaboration.

Wait, did I say that already?
Am I awake or asleep?
Was it John Dewey or Melvil Dewey who figured out how to categorize books?
Should my opinion and those of my colleagues who actually do this job matter at all in the world of education policy (note: scroll down to Monday, May 15 and look for the bulldog), or should we just accept the fact that those who write about, speechify over, and make laws that profoundly impact education are in a world that is separate from the one in which we teachers eat, sleep and breathe (you know-- the one with the actual classrooms and kids in it)?

Stay tuned, loyal readers. The answers to these nagging questions may come to me in the middle of the night or when I’m walking my dog. I’ll be sure to jot them down on something handy and share them with you here.


I'm glad to see those standards highlighted. They are goals I am inspired to accomplish within my own world of teaching. To that end, Emmet, it is difficult not to think about how we will teach or reflect on how we could have done better, throughout any given day.

In addition, I believe, as espoused by Dewey, that we are hired by society and need to meet the expectations as established by society.


Just what are the expectations of society? How and when should we be involved in setting those expectations? What do you say when the chair of the Congressional committee reviewing NCLB states categorically that the committee will not listen to arguments to rescind the law due the flaws inherent in its structure and funding? How do we reconcile the surveys that show parents want higher quality instruction, think teachers are vastly underpaid, support empowering teachers instead of school boards, but don't trust the government enough to spend extra tax dollars to create a better system?

Heck yes, we can work within the system, put on our blinders and do the best we can - or we can stand up and take our place at the head of this debate and be heard. Personally, going along with the crowd when the crowd is going the wrong direction doesn't sit well with me. Emmet's on the right track - question authority, take action, be a voice. Board Certification isn't a panacea, but it does tend to attract the dedicated professional educator. Using this as a platform to improve education is worthwhile.

Nun bringt mich die große Suchmachine schon das zweite mal auf diesen Weblog, deshalb sag ich nun auch mal Hallo.

Comments are now closed for this post.


Recent Comments

  • Cherise Cartin: Nun bringt mich die große Suchmachine schon das zweite mal read more
  • Brett: Angie: Just what are the expectations of society? How and read more
  • Angie: I'm glad to see those standards highlighted. They are goals read more




Technorati search

» Blogs that link here