When you think back to your own education, what pops up into your mind? Is it that really awesome standardized math test you took in 5th grade or the art project that got to hang in the Anchorage Museum of Art?
Great teachers know the importance of creating and maintaining relationships with students and the positive affect these relationships have on school climate. This report serves as an affirmation of that work and reminds us that while test scores show us something, they can never replace the power of a caring adult.
So much of teaching is reminding students that we see them, that they are special, and they are loved.
Teachers are often told that we are "valued professionals" who "change the lives of our students every day." But we are also micromanaged to immobility, not trusted to make the simplest decisions that affect students' learning and well-being. When students have to work in classrooms in silence because the teacher knows that the loud and messy learning is often seen as ill-managed instruction, the walls close in.
When I leave school to go home, I often see an older man who just sits on the broken part of a guard-rail next to the street. Cars crawl by during rush hour, but he is too tired to even beg for change anymore. He just sits. Put out. Like the trash. I wonder: When was he first put out? Where was he first put out? Will he ever come back? Who will be there for him when he returns?
"The researchers in this report did something about as rare as seeking advice from a drug addict: they asked effective teachers. Because of this outside-the-box methodology, the report makes common-sense recommendations that may seem obvious to teachers, but that are often not in place at schools and districts."
My best times as a teacher, as a learner, the best things that have ever happened in and around my room, have happened with groups who were not racially homogenous..As a White teacher, I can say unequivocally that having a classroom that centers the voices of People of Color is crucial to good teaching.
Afterschool experiences provide much more than just a safe place to go; students have an extended opportunity to socialize with their peers and engage in problem solving activities. Schools often use 21st Century funds to host family math and literacy nights, where parents feel welcome in the school. There they engage in similar problem solving with their kids and take home resources to bridge the learning in their homes.
There are some moments as a teacher that just never leave you. They remain burned into memory like still photos. These images have stories that all elicit their own emotions, varying widely from invigorating and awe-inspiring to sad and demoralizing. Amid news that a DACA protected student was just deported, I am reminded of one of the single bravest acts performed by one of my students: disclosing his undocumented status to the entire class.
There is a difference between critiquing and attacking yourself. Instead of letting negative thoughts pervade your day and contribute to self-doubt, harness them as a conduit for improvement. See failure as feedback, not the world's confirmation that you are substandard.