Now that I have been in my new job for a half of a year, it is time to start getting back to the blog. One of the things that bothered me about being a classroom teacher was the isolation. A teacher never gets to go out and see what other teachers are doing. Sure you can go to conferences – I did that often- but that is not the same as going to other schools and seeing what is actually happening, what are teachers doing, and what are kids doing. So it is really difficult to have a sense of where you are at in the bigger picture. I thought I was a rather innovative teacher, but really, I had no idea. I had nothing to compare what I was doing with.
Now that I am out of the classroom I have the opportunity to go and see what is happening in the schools throughout the district. With some 2,000 teachers spread out over 53 schools I have some opportunities in front of me. I have seen some cool stuff so far. I loved seeing some second graders using Google Slides to give a career awareness presentation. It was a blast watching some 8th grade kids work on building a prosthetic arm. I got to see a bunch of high school kids pound on the door to get back into school – on a Friday afternoon, on a holiday weekend! They had work they wanted to get done. It wasn’t “due.” They just wanted to work. They didn’t see how school being over had anything to do with it. They wanted the dang door unlocked.
In reflecting back on these experiences, there was a common element in all of these, and it was the teacher. In all of these experiences, the responsible teacher was visibly passionate about what his or her students were doing. In thinking back on what I know about learning, what we know about high performing- high poverty schools, it is the role of the teacher that is most important. The teacher must believe in the kids; they must be passionate about the kids and learning. They must do whatever it takes to bring an interesting and engaging lesson to the kids. When this is done, the kids respond. They pound on the doors to get them open.
I am looking forward to seeing more passionate teachers, and helping others to rekindle their passion.