Posted in General Inspiration, Hope for Teachers, Note to Teachers, Perseverance

The Real Key to Change in Education



Dear Teacher,

We live in a world that is trying to figure out how to change the state of education.  Common Core this.  Latest, greatest PD that.  Technology.  Strategies. Best practices.

Name your teaching cliche.

People who do not teach or haven’t taught in a while tell us how we need to teach.

Not that any of what I mentioned is necessarily bad…that is not my point.  There is just so much that we are asked and told to do.  Sometimes we are even treated as if we don’t have a clue about how to teach.

It can be overwhelming.  It can be frustrating.  It can be irritating.

Trust me, I know.  I live it every day, just like you.

But, if I may, let me encourage you with one thought.

You know something that the education problem-solvers do not know.  It is the one thing that will make more of a difference than any work of legislation or professional development breakthrough.

You know your students.

You see them every day.  You talk to them.  You see how they work.  You know their struggles.  You know their names.  You know their parents.  You know their personalities.  You know them.

You know them like few others do.

This is what makes you special.  This is what gives you the edge.  This is how you will change education.

Don’t be afraid to make choices based on what you know…your students.  Have courage to make a stand when it needs to be made.  Be brave and do what needs to be done.

You know your students.  You know what they need.  You know how to get things done.  Get them done.  Make a change!

You are smart, experienced, and capable, Teacher.  You can do this.  Listen to the voices out there, but take everything with a grain of salt.  You can do this.  You can make the change that needs to be made in the lives of your students.  You really can make a difference.  Get out there and make it!

You are awesome.  You are the key to educational change.  Go in confidence today!  You’ve got this.  You are amazing!  Change those students’ lives!  Keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

 

Posted in Challenge, General Inspiration, Hope for Teachers, Note to Teachers, Pep Talk

Cutting to your Core…


Dear Teacher,

Yesterday’s post, Tugging on the Common Thread, had more response that I have received in a long time.  The frustration over the ever-changing landscape struck a chord with a lot of people.  The idea that great teaching is great teaching and connecting with students and growth seemed to one thing that teachers can agree on.  I decided to follow-up and expand on this just a bit.

This is one of those times that I am writing more than to talk to myself than to you…but feel free to listen in on my personal self conversation.

It is one thing to say that students and student growth matters most, despite what is common in education at any given time.  But what does that mean.  How do I cut to the core of this for me, my students, my classroom, my school, and my community?

Standards matter.  We are paid to teach students what they say.  The test at the end matters.  Developing students to the point that they understand the standards to the level of my test is our job.

How do we focus on student growth and this at the same time?  We all know that most of our students need growth and instruction that falls outside of the standards and the test.

I think the biggest key is simple in theory but difficult in practice.

Teachers, know thine students.

You have to know those little rascals in your classroom.  You have to have a rapport.  You have to understand what makes them tick.  You have to have some knowledge of how and why they think they way that they do.

I think it is that simple.  This is only way to grow student understanding and create life-long learners.

When you know students, you know their interests and deficits.  You know their strengths and weaknesses.  You know what they need before they know they need it.  You are able to see growth where other people would see a stagnate learner.

When you know what growth looks like in a student, you can foster that growth.  You can differentiate.  You can push them to deeper understanding.  You can scaffold.  You can remove scaffolding.  You can see smart and intelligence where even the student and his/her family doesn’t, and you can bring it out for everyone else to see.

This is the core of it.  Knowing those young people in your room.  Getting to know and understand even the ones that drive you insane.  You have to know and want to know the students!

Does this mean that they will love you and students will all appreciate the work you put into this?  Goodness no!  But you will know what is best for them and give them what they need…even if they don’t want it!

Will this make you teacher of the year?

Maybe, but probably not.  This is not being your students’ best friend.  It is taking the time to get to know them, though.  It is hard work, but it is worth it in the end.

awesome teacher guy

Will your students see your awesome all of the time?  Nope.

But will your awesome shine through in the end, no matter what the educational system is like at any given time?  Yes!

This is the core.  This is the common thread.  Know your students and you will make them grow!

Grow those students, Teacher!  I know you will!  You are awesome!  Keep on getting to know those kiddos and keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher