Tag Archives: inspiration

The best lesson

10 Feb

Teachers at several schools around Seattle have refused to administer the MAP (Measure of Academic Progress) test in the past few weeks.

The boycott initially began in December, with a few teachers at Garfield High stating that they would not administer the MAP test to their students, for a number of reasons. Two of the biggest reasons – it interferes with student learning and doesn’t give teachers any valuable information about their students. You can read a full petition presented by the Garfield teachers here, at change.org.

The administration has reacted cautiously, especially as teachers from many other schools have joined the boycott. Community support is varied, if one is to believe the comments on online news articles. (Which, to be honest, I usually skip. Too many people think they can hide behind their computers and spew hateful comments.)

But what’s the big deal? Why won’t teachers just sit down and administer this one test?

Because it’s not just this one test. The MAP is one test in a long list of tests that Seattle students must take over the course of the year. Regardless of what information is gleaned from these test scores, the more time students spend in testing, the less time they spend actually learning. The MAP test is conducted on the computer, which takes computer lab time from other students who could be learning things about technology, programming, etc… or even just the simple typing skills that everyone needs today. Many students don’t have access to computers other than at school.

Whether or not you agree with a boycott of the MAP test, it is exciting to see teachers coming together to try to improve the education system that they work in. PTSAs and parents and students are all supporting these teachers. Parents are writing letters to exempt their students from testing. Students are refusing to take the test, and voicing their support of the boycott.

This sentiment against mandatory, unnecessary testing is not unique to Seattle. Chicago teachers were told that the MAP was going to be used as part of their student-achievement based evaluation process. In case you forgot, that didn’t go so well, for any party involved. (Though the testing was just one thing on a list of teacher grievances that led to that strike.)

Teaching is not easy, teaching is not a job for those who “can’t do” – it’s a job for those who do, every day. These teachers are showing their students that they can make a difference, that they can stand up for what they believe in, and that they can be heard.

That’s the best lesson any teacher could hope to teach.

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Picking up

27 Jan

broken_heart

 

Without going into detail, my world shattered in late December. Though things have “settled” a bit, I still find myself, in the middle of one task or another, suddenly standing still, wondering “How on earth did I get here?” and “This is NOT where I am supposed to be.” And to be quite honest, I’m having a hard time focusing on anything, from cooking (which I love) to school (which I usually love).

This happens to students all the time. Parents lose their jobs, or divorce, or even die. Families move across town, across the country, or across the world. Shootings. The fear of shootings. Violence at home, or in the neighborhood. Bullying. Family members who fall ill. Numerous other events that happen every day.

Just like me, these students – these children – are expected to go on as if nothing has happened. Rarely are teachers even aware of what, specifically, is affecting their students lives – but usually they can tell something is going on. Students lose focus, act out in class, neglect their homework, and otherwise “act out.” At this age, they are not capable of putting their feelings into words, they only know that something is wrong, so they do these things, to prove that life is not working right for them.

I have been lucky these past few weeks, to discover who my real friends are. Family members and friends have provided support, encouragement, and help, as I struggle to pick up the pieces. As teachers, we must be a rock for our students. Even when we don’t know what is wrong, it is our job to sift through the clues, be the glue and the support, and help our students “fix” their lives, as best we can.

It’s not all about teaching reading and math. As John Spencer says, it’s about love. “Real love. Muddy love.” Really, that’s what life is all about, isn’t it?

Sometimes in my tears I drown

15 Dec

I have too many thoughts going through my head right now, too much pain and need for understanding. The events of yesterday morning cut me to the core.

Sometimes, the Universe gives you what you need. Today, as I stood in the kitchen, this song came on my Pandora stream:

And I remembered this video that I posted earlier this spring:

Teachers died yesterday, protecting their students. Let’s never forget those heroes. And let’s never forget why we teach – not to fill these vessels with knowledge, but to inspire and help them grow into adults who know what love and compassion are. Adults who will say “We don’t wanna fight no more.”

Just a little inspiration for you, and for me, on this day when we try to make sense of the world and the pain and the fear.

Sometimes in my tears I drown
But I never let it get me down
So my negativity surrounds
I know some day it’ll all turn around
Because
All my life I’ve been waiting for
I’ve been praying for
For the people to say
That we don’t wanna fight no more
They’ll be no more wars
And our children will play

-Matisyahu, One Day

 

 

A thought about tracking

20 Oct

Most professional athletes spend their whole lives working towards their athletic goal, right? Middle school kids will get up and train before school if it means a leg up against their competition. Young girls training for the Olympics will move away from their families in order to train with the best coaches.
When we track students, we are saying “you are heading for college and success.” They believe it, much like these young athletes. They work for it, because they have a goal and someone (probably many people) who believe in them.
What if we put all students on the college track? What if we told all of our students that they were heading for college (or career, or major league sports)? How motivated would they be?
The principal at my elementary placement believes that all of his students can go to college. He is motivating the teachers to express that belief every day. Will it work? I believe so.

A Green Teacher

2 Aug

This video made me cry, no less than four times in the course of 13.5 minutes.

I want to be this kind of teacher. The enthusiasm and passion are inspiring. The love for his students is awesome. And, I love gardening and healthy eating, and urban farming, and innovation, and project-based learning, and… you get the point, right?

I want my teaching to be full of si se pueda moments!

Letter to the editor, 5th grade style

12 Jul

 

This image was Tweeted by the Washington Post’s Ron Charles. He said: “Our favorite correction letter ever, from 5th graders @ Burning Tree E.S. in Bethesda MD.

 

People actually do read letters your class sends out! And they like them!

Inspiration of the day

4 Jun

I’m putting the finishing touches on my final essay for one of our classes. I needed a little break, and found this video.

I’m warning you, it made me cry. Education is powerful.

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