Why do I teach?

Installment #4:

I teach because it is honorable.

It sounds self-righteous, even sanctimonious, but I’m doing good work. I’m in a time-honored profession. I mold lives. I’m a positive force for the present, and the future.

I feel good because I’m contributing to the future and our collective well-being. I don’t think it’s terrible to say, or point out, that teaching is noble. It is the only profession that paves the way for every other profession.

I enjoying teaching and I take pride in being a teacher–it is truly an admirable career choice.

Teacher Tip #6

It’s just a test.

It seems that the end of February we start entering a delightfully misunderstood and stressful season: testing season.

There’s quarter tests and WIDA about this time of year. These are followed by state-standardized tests, which are then followed by the next set of quarter tests.

These state-standardized tests and quarter tests, if you’re in secondary, may overlap with PSATs, and special subject exams (think AP). There’s also, of course, every other normal test sprinkled in between all of these *big* *important* tests.

It doesn’t matter if you’re in elementary or secondary, there’s this near two-month testing window rapidly approaching and I’m here to remind you: It’s just a test.

I have fallen victim to the stress and I passed it onto my kids. Don’t do that. They’re already stressed, they already know that these things are a big deal. So, I implore you–remind them: It’s just a test.

  • It’s one day out of 180 this year.
  • It’s one day out of however many they have accumulated over the years.
  • None of these tests are measuring their kindness, their dedication, their hard work, their perseverance, or any number of far more important qualities and traits they possess as human beings.
  • Tests can be taken again.
  • Tests are singular snapshots; they do not measure every aspect of learning and growth.
  • Tests are subject to human and technological error.
  • Tests are like every other assignment–there will be multiple opportunities to show just how much they have learned; today, and this test, are not the only opportunity to demonstrate learning and growth.

Tests–state tests, district tests, exit exams–are important, but they’re not the most important determinant, measure, or indicator of educational excellence. Remember that, and remind your students of that.

 

 

Monthly Advice–February

Don’t eat too much candy.

February is a short month, but it has two massive candy-inducing possibilities: Valentine’s Day and the 100th Day of School.

So, just a reminder: take it easy on the candy.

I know the level of stress right now, I know some of that candy is delicious, and I know that the days are long. However, cold & flu season is coming to end, New Year’s resolutions are hopefully still at play, and eating well is paramount to your health.

Therefore, I urge you to put some candy aside for friends, family, or the teachers’ lounge. It’s okay to have some, just don’t have it all–trust me, a few makes for a sugar rush, but too many makes for a stomach ache–a stomach ache at work? Nobody wants that.

So take all that candy, and pick out a few, and giveaway the rest, you’ll be happy in the end, I promise . . .

A word on teacher strikes . . .

In the past year, we have seen a number of districts and teacher organizations demand better working conditions through marches and strikes.

The most impressive one was West Virginia in February 2018; this strike essentially shut down the entire state of education as schools in all 55 counties were involved. Recently, the 2nd largest school district in the US, Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), had their first strike in 30 years; they were offered a generous salary increase, retroactive, but declined that initial offer in order to hold out for more, more that was needed for their schools and their students. This felt very impressive to me as well, it demonstrated the true teacher spirit, which is centered on service and kids.

LAUSD, its name, its size, its demands, allowed for an extreme spotlight on the state of education, and there were plenty of nervous watchers around the country. As an educator, what do I have to say about all of this?

It’s about time.

I believe that a living wage is a human right.

I believe quality education is a human right.

I believe that striking is a human right.

I do not necessarily agree with every tactic employed, or every demand, but I fully support the pursuit of better schools, and better working conditions for teachers, and kids.

Teachers deserve to be compensated for their work, and students deserve the very best school environments, schools enriched with trained staff, rigorous learning material, and a focus on their whole person (social, emotional, mental, and academic needs).

The victories over the past year are only the beginning of a long-standing battle for better education for every student, and every education professional. I only hope that we continue to discuss our collective needs and hopes for the future, and bring them into fruition — every child, and every educator, deserves the very best learning environment each and every day, we can make that our priority, and we can make that a reality.

 

Things I never knew . . .

Installment #5:

Five things I never knew . . . until I became a teacher:

  • The 100th Day of School is a mutual celebration for students and teachers–truly
  • The 100th Day of School is secretly fun and educational . . . if you plan it right
  • The 100th Day of School is terribly messy
  • The 100th Day of School is a uniquely elementary experience, and even within this world a much more primary experience
  • The 100th Day of School can cause a ton of disagreement (a discussion on *when* it actually is, can turn into a hilarious as well as infuriating debate)