Celebrating the Good

With a lot of the press covering education and the crisis we’re in these days, it makes me wonder—where are the teachers in all this?

The politicians, the “school reformers” lobbying for whatever agenda they stand for at the state and federal level, the business leaders, the media—-THEY all feel inspired to spew their sometimes worthless thoughts into cyberspace, but who really cares? They’re not teachers. To a lot of people, this doesn’t matter. Anyone with power is going to be heard, regardless of actual experience they have in the day-to-day of a classroom, witnessing the problems of education in the United States. And yet, somebody thinks it’s a good idea to let these people dictate the public opinion of how teachers should do their jobs.

Michelle Rhee seems to have some jacked up way to “grade” all states based on whether they fit her agenda about school reform that hides behind the guise of putting “students first,” and get this: most sheeple are quick to believe her, but I’ll wager they’ve never lasted more the five years in a classroom. Not that I can talk, as I’ve only spent less than one. But as least I’m not dim enough to believe her. I mean, the woman said that Louisiana’s schools are doing better than Massachusetts’, when Massachusetts students rank higher on the NAEP.

According to Diane Ravitch, Educational historian who used to be a teacher,

“The public schools of Massachusetts are unquestionably the most successful in the United States. On the National Assessment of Educational Progress, they are number one in the nation, by far. When Massachusetts students took part in the latest international assessment, they were ranked among the highest performing nations in the world in math and science. Black students in Massachusetts performed as well as Finland. Rhee graded Massachusetts D+.”

So, Rhee is giving grades based on whether they have adopted her policies of school choice and alternative licensure and merit pay for teachers, which has no research base for being best practices—not to mention, has no data that shows that her policies improve schools. She just wants to open charter schools that leave minorities in the failing public schools. That sounds like a wonderful idea.*

Enough.

Enough with the evaluating based on nebulous data, enough with the fear-induced reform—enough.

It seems that these days I never really hear from real, live, working teachers about the good that’s happening in their lives, their careers, their classrooms. We have staff meetings at my school twice a week, and we always try to ask the question, “who’s doing well? What good is happening here?” Sometimes it’s hard to answer, but we can almost always find a silver lining that helps us believe our efforts are not futile in this roller coaster profession.

So, what’s good in my classroom?

My students argued today, they discussed. They supported their opinions with textual evidence, and they didn’t even know they were doing it.

They found a symbol in a text, and I had never even considered it being one.

They wrote. Whenever they do that, it’s a good thing.

They got excited over a teen literary magazine.

I had energy today—and am now exhausted, but in a good way.

I collaborated with another teacher.

I told a student, “I’m glad you’re here today.”

I learned something about Napoleon from a student, who somehow connected it to the Declaration of Independence.

I read the first paragraph of the Declaration of Independence with my students, and taught them about Natural Rights.

I made them compare movie trailers to writing an introduction of an essay.

In a poem a student wrote, “my love request is pending.” I thought that was clever.

We read some Langston Hughes.

Teachers, if you take the time to share with others the good that’s happening in your career, you can only do good. Brag. Blog. Tweet. Write a letter to your senator. Show off the good that’s happening all the time, and if good isn’t happening, find a way to make it better. Support your colleagues and ask them what works in their classrooms or how they’re surviving. Take responsibility for showing the media, the politicians, the Michelle Rhees, or the downers that you’re the one doing the heavy lifting, and by God you’re successful at it!

Comment and tell me the good! Forward to your teacher colleagues and have them comment too.

Off to go plan lessons for tomorrow. Over and out.

-S

*Note: Michelle Rhee is an educated woman whose policies I believe are not based in enough research to be implemented nation-wide. I’m not hatin’—just disagreein’.

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3 comments

  1. I love reading your blog because of posts like this. You don’t let the larger, scarier world of education and politics overwhelm the fact that you’re doing your job day by day and affecting individual lives in the most positive way you can. I can’t add my own story since I’m not teaching on the daily yet, but I’m inspired by your stories and anecdotes.

    I think it’s hard to be in a profession that is often having to defend itself and its practices. We are a society that is quick to point out all the negatives and never praise the positives, especially in teaching. Often, people in the media rag on teachers and act as if they’ve never had a meaningful or inspiring educator, but I’m sure if they actually thought about their own pasts they would find those couple teachers that really made an impact. I can’t say all of my teachers were ones that greatly affected my life, but I have those few that changed everything. I think those few are different for every student, but I think that’s what matters. I’m hopeful that public opinion of teachers will change in the coming years, and I’d love to believe that it will be because of our generation.

    Keep being you, Shanna! You will change the world.

    1. Alana, even if you’re not teaching right now you’re contributing in some capacity. Thinking and growing and expanding your content knowledge is just as helpful as being up there in front of a classroom every day! Thank you for the support. We all definitely need it! Keep on keeping on.

  2. happy face 🙂 I was going to write about my students breaking out in gangnam style but I already told you about that lol.

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