I was excited about the discussions I was having with my 9th grade English Lit/Comp classes yesterday. I was eager to share some of those stories here and their implications. However, after a few blog posts over the last two weeks right here I have decided to revisit some of the main themes and concerns from educators and parents concerning education.
The first post that generated some moderate interest was about engaging parents in education. An interesting comment was made during this discussion, “Parents, by nature are engaged with their children so where do we need to look at the engagement that IS and build on that… to develop the relationships where, de facto, parents engage as we wish as well”. Another post discussed training parents in digital technology to create a higher level of comfort for parents… “planning to create and follow our progress at http://digitalparent.wikispaces.com.” Yet another post stated, “I prefer to hear, ‘leave me alone’ rather than, ‘I never hear anything from that school,’ in regards to contacting parents in any way at all…phone, email, etc. These are solutions. Educators must look at what we CAN do instead of what we are tired of doing or the things we perceive we can’t do.
The next post that generated much interest was in regards to measuring teacher efficacy. Teachers find themselves under pressure when students aren’t passing their classes. Should this be a concern? Absolutely! However, is it a teacher efficacy issue or a student behavior issue? The discussions under this post were peppered with frustration from teachers who continued to search for answers to why students are not achieving at the level they could/should be.
Another post that produce tremendous interest was a call out for tougher consequences for students. Educators from all over the country chimed in on the debate of allowing natural consequences to motivate students to higher achievement. There were many though provoking contributions to this blog post that led me then to write yesterday’s post.
Yesterday’s post was an exploration of the characteristics of great teachers and, yet, seeing those characteristics diminish over the years. The discussion to yesterday’s post disturbed me a bit and challenged me. The educators that weighed in on this post seemed always to be searching for solutions to the fatigue that sets in which, in turn, diminishes all of those great characteristics.
Here is my summation after reading all of the comments on these topics over the course of the past couple of weeks.
1. Educators want change. Change is not easy when we work with such a variety of personalities, ages, and other variables such as parents, socio-economics, life outside of school, and demographics.
2. All educators, teachers and administrators, must come together to form a unified vision of success at their school. There must be total trust between teachers, administrators, students, and parents.
3. Teachers must be and feel supported by their administration. Consequently, administrators must be active with their teachers…a productive dialog between the two must be maintained. Teachers, on the other hand, must work in concert with that unified vision.
4. Teachers must continue to learn and be given the opportunity to explore who they are as teachers, professionals. Learning creates energy. Energy creates enthusiasm. Enthusiasm engages students and teachers.
5. Teachers must be willing to open themselves up and take risks to collaborate with other teachers and administrators. There should be no fear of failure, in fact, the failure is in not sharing ourselves with each other. Let your light shine!
I know plenty of teachers, teachers I work with each and every day, that fight hard to do what is right for students. The trend of teachers giving up due to fatigue or feeling no support is frightening. Good teachers are getting tired. Question is, what is making them tired? We have to help each other. We have to be given a breath of fresh air from a colleague or administrator. We have to focus on the greatness we do every day and believe in ourselves and each other.
I admit it, I get tired too. I get tired of fighting all the things that have nothing to do with my content area: tardies, skips, unrealistic expectations, great lesson plans, apathy amongst students, and resistance to positive change. I believe that all educators feel the same way from time to time. We need to share more. Maybe we are too judgmental, maybe we just don’t want to admit our inadequacies. Without an honest look, from teachers and administrators and parents, at who we really are and allowing ourselves to be vulnerable at times, we will continue having issues moving forward. Education has always been about forward thinking.
What are we going to do today that puts us in ‘drive’ to move forward with our students, colleagues, and administrators?
Tomorrow’s post: Some inspiring, fun stories about the discussions I have had with my students in class…learning is awesome!