My colleagues and I work quickly in complex environments to perfect our craft. It is our ongoing, human interactions that inform our expertise--helping a child whose mother has died, finding food for a student who had no breakfast, or teaching a class not to bully a new student who seems different.
There are dozens of books and theories about working with students who struggle behaviorally. While I appreciate many of the methods, I am convinced that in the end, it's about the effort we make to build a trusting relationship even when it is difficult.
Policy is written by people who have a specific point of view. Though they may have read research that you haven't, they do not know more about any of the challenges in education than you do.
Forcing our children to go to school for more days is not the answer. There other solutions available to supplement a child's education while still providing them time to explore the outside world.
School wide meetings are presented in the abstract, using concepts and numbers that aren't connected to real kids or real situations happening in our classrooms. It is time for administrators to acknowledge teachers as learners and to use the auditorium as a classroom full of the same obstacles and opportunities faced by teachers every day.
As with effective lesson planning, we have to begin with the end in mind. We have to set our sights on an intended greater purpose. We have to know what we hope to achieve. This is the fundamental difference between being a "missionary teacher" or a "mission-minded teacher."
Another Year, Another Principal: How to Manage Your Relationship with a New Principal for the Good of Your School
Just as a new teacher forms their impressions about students and teaching based on their first few years in the classroom, a principal is forming their initial impressions of the school based on what they see and hear in their first few months. So don't sit back and wait for the principal to figure out what you're working on.
If you find yourself entering the uncharted territory of being a teacher leader, chances are you're writing your job description as you go. In this wonderful new frontier where teachers lead teachers, much is new and much is unknown. What I do know is that without the support of leadership, and their commitment to guiding my development, I would be just getting by, not getting ahead.
Why is it that when teachers become the learners, they are the worst students? How often during PD do teachers arrive late, leave early, talk above the speaker, scroll through Facebook, answer emails, and mindlessly doodle--anything to resist engagement? Many even exhibit overtly negative responses: eye-rolling, sighing, arm crossing, and flat out refusing requests by the presenter to participate. So often in professional development, it seems like no one is happy, no one is engaged, no one is learning.
A quick licensing route perpetuates the misconception that "Anyone can teach." Lessening the requirements for an entry-level license degrades the professionalism of teaching and disrespects the rigor required to obtain a professional license. Instead of seeking temporary fixes, individual states should seriously investigate solutions that offer teaching as a sustainable career choice and do the hard work to keep skilled teachers on the job.