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

 

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

Tugging on the Common Thread


Dear Teacher,

So…this week I have been a part of writing curriculum for my district.  It has been fun.  Yes, I am a nerd.  However, more than fun it has been a challenge and quite enlightening.

We all come from different states (and possibly countries), and every area has their own set of standards and fight with or against new standards.  I don’t know how it is where you are, but the state I am from is in constant flux.

One thing is clear: nothing is clear.

We are “for” things one minute.  We are “against” things the next minute.  We have a plan for testing in one breath.  No clear plan in the next one.

I have been in education long enough to see that the only thing you can count on is change.  The change can last a while or be quick, but you can always know that things will change sooner or later.

There will be buzz words.  There will be “current” research.  There will be best practices.  There will be education trends and fads.

There will be change.

There will be unclear goals.

There will be a test at the end.

This is clearly the only clarity we get as teachers.

And that is okay.  I think.

Yes.  It is okay.  I know it.

You know why I know it?  Because there are teachers who teach well NO MATTER WHAT IS GOING ON AROUND THEM.

True.  It is not every teacher.  However, we all know at least one or two of them that are spectacular no matter what the trends and legislation going on.  They are consistent.  They are constant.  They are uncanny.

They are the great teachers.

What makes them great?

They found the common thread of teaching before it got cored.  They focus on what is always, not what is now.  The set their eyes on one goal.  Students.  Students and what it takes to help them grow.

Simple.

Students.

Growth.

Period.

Will the latest research and methods help them do this?  Of course.  Are these teachers life-long educational learners?  You bet.  Do they keep up with new ideas and strategies?  Most certainly.  Do they change and move from one generation to the next that comes through their classroom?  Yes, yes, and yes!

One thing remains the same throughout the change for them.  The students.

This is how you keep your sanity.  This is how you stay a great teacher.  This is how you stay the course even when the waters are choppy.  You keep your eyes on the point of teaching…students, growth, and creating learners.

Can you do this if your state is Common Core?  Yes.  Can you do this if your state rejects the common?  Yes.  Can you do this if the test changes every year?  Yes.  Can you do this no matter what?  YES YOU CAN!

Wonka

So what does focusing on students mean to you?  How can you make this your goal despite the ebb and flow of current educational mandates in your area?  What changes can you make to be more and more consistent in this focus?

You are awesome, and I know that you already have this focus!  You will grow every year in make student growth your goal.  Think more about this as the school year looms ever closer!  Keep on teaching, Teacher, and keep on focusing on what is most important!

You can do it!

Love, Teacher