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.
I get goose bumps seeing what children think and do when we provide them with a space for inquiry. Their questions often provide a springboard to real rigor and deeper learning.
White boys need you to be honest about their history. We cannot fully embrace the contributions of white people without representing the hard truths. Teachers, do not shy away from any of it. As you teach about the strength and resourcefulness of our founding fathers, include the horrors of the exploitation and destruction of other cultures and civilizations...
The national mood reminds me of the plants I had expected in my abandoned raised beds. The soil is shallow and the fertilizer isn't good, so not much good is growing but weeds.