Sunday, September 14, 2014

Trust me

There has been a buzz in the air about standardized testing that seems to be getting louder and louder.  

This isn't a post about my feelings on that.  Not really.  It is a post about my feelings on what is the most  important thing.  

I am not a parent.  I won't pretend that I know or understand the emotional undertaking that it involves.  However, I will say this: 

  • I don't really like it when other people watch my dogs.  They just don't love them like I love them. 
  • I don't really like other people to drive my car.  My mirrors are just right and I don't like the radio station pre-sets to be changed. 
  • I'm not a fan of anyone else cooking in my kitchen.  I know where things are and I like it that way.  
Now, these things are important to me but they are a far cry from tiny people that I birthed from my own body or accepted the great task of looking after.  

I understand how much faith parents place in me each day to keep their child safe, engaged, and encouraged.  I may not be able to understand wholly but I can empathize with what it is like to allow someone else to spend as many hours as I do with their child.  I imagine that your children are your "world" and I appreciate and value that it must be so hard to leave them with someone for an entire day.  I get all of this so I KNOW how hard it might be for you to do what I am about to ask you to do next. 

Trust me.  Trust that I am going to do the best I possibly can for your child.  

I'm not saying I'm perfect or anywhere close to it but know that I will do my best.  

No, we might not get to the last question on the "Problem Set," and yes, I might have to change the date of the quiz because I don't think everyone is ready for it.  But that is OK with me.  

When your child makes a connection and the class values his or her opinion and the conversation distracts us from the lesson, I will weigh that situation and do what I think is best for the community.  I know that we will get back to that skill and I am not so naive that I don't understand and value the importance of that standardized test that is always looming in the future.  However, giving your child a voice seems pretty darn important to me too.  Allowing your child to make connections to their peers and foster a safe and nurturing environment can be rewarding and life changing.  Perhaps, more so than any test.  

When we are outside at recess and your child finds an egg sac on a leaf and wants to know what kind of insect it is, I might skip silent reading that day and let the kids have an authentic scientific experience.  We may not get to talk about a reading comprehension skill, however, they will learn even more because they are invested in finding an answer.  They are finding value in inquiry and building a foundation for lifelong learning.  Trust me, that matters more than any score on a test. 

It's going to happen.  Your kid is going to say "Nothing," when you ask him or her what they did at school today.  It isn't unusual for me to spend 10 or more hours at school every day.  My entire Sunday is usually spent researching, planning, and engaging myself in professional development with other teachers just like me.  There might be times where we are all stressed and we have some silent reading time, review time, or a dance break to break the funk.  But I never have, nor ever will come to school and do "nothing" with your child.  I set high personal goals and standards and I do what I can to meet them.  I expect the same of your child.  They might come home upset with me for pushing them today but we have established trust and they know I want what is best for them.  They might come home tired because I found multiple ways to engage and excite them throughout the day.  They will probably come home silent because I have given them multiple opportunities to discuss their learning with their peers throughout the day and they just don't know what or how to tell you.  Trust me, they didn't do nothing.  Try to find another way to ask the question.  Connecting with your kids about their day might take extra effort, you might have to work it out of them, it might turn into a much longer discussion than you thought.  Trust me, it will be more important than any test score.  

I will mess up some days.  My big ideas will fall flat.  I might trip and fall on my face.  My SmartBoard might break or I might put the wrong answer on the board.  You'll probably hear about that.  Trust me, I'm OK with that.  If your kid sees me dust myself off, get back on that "horse" and keep going, it will teach them to persevere and learn from their mistakes.  Not just believe that one day, one moment, or one test defines them.  And that is way more important than any one test score.  

So, trust me.  Trust that I will do the best I can for your child every day.  I will notice them, I will talk with them, I will enjoy them, I will push them, I will encourage them, I will challenge them, I will care for them, I will advocate for them.  Trust me, because I see them as the unique, individual, and important part of you that they are.    

Because to me, they are way more important than a test score.  

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Top 100

In honor of #TLead Chat tonight, I made my own Teacher “Top 100” I hope it’s a hit!

1.     You get to read cool young adult novels FOR YOUR JOB.
2.     Kid hugs
3.     Kid smiles
4.     That moment when a kid says "Oh, I get it!" 
5.     When they make up a song for you
6.     When their parents say they came home excited about learning today
7.     When a parent thanks you
8.     When an administrator tells a parent (in front of you) that their kid is lucky to have you as their teacher.
9.     A job where you get to have recess every day
10. The natural curiosity that kids have
11. When a kid makes a great connection
12. When a kid asks a question that shows they are really listening
13. When a kid solves a math problem a way that you didn’t even think about
14. When the copier works
15. When every kid follows line procedures right as the principal walks by
16. When you hear your student being respectful
17. When you see your student helping a friend
18. When you see your student struggling but they don’t give up
19. When a student e-mails you at night just to tell you that they finished the book
20. When a mom asks how she can help
21. When a dad stops by just to read with kids, not even his sometimes
22. When another teacher asks if you need anything
23. When a front office friend cuts out your laminating for you
24. When a kid sits with you at recess to tell you about their weekend
25. When a kid asks if you can sit at their lunch table today
26. My coffee pot in my room
27. My absurd amount of gel pens that kids think are cool and adults just don’t understand
28. Picture books
29. Town Hall
30. Board games
31. Creating a class song
32. Creating a class rap
33. Showing a kid hilarious internet videos sometimes, just because hilarious internet videos
34. Spending your day with friends
35. Allowing yourself to sit back and watch learning happen
36. Realizing that the kids have more to teach you than you ever thought possible
37. Going to the school library and getting as many books as you want
38. Playing freeze tag during a dance break
39. Skate nights
40. Field Trips
41. Secret Buddies (Bucket Buddies at my school)
42. Getting to draw on a Smartboard
43. Having a line of children waiting to greet you every morning
44. That kid who sees you after school and waves like you’re a rock star even though you just saw them an hour ago
45. When you have time, grading papers and commenting to kids so they know you care
46. Book chats
47. Dressing up
48. Planning a lesson that gets them engaged
49. Knowing that your kids feel safe in your environment
50. Knowing that your kids will take risks
51. Knowing that your kids will feel celebrated
52. Knowing that your kids will know that they matter
53. Jamming to 80’s love tunes during Writer’s Workshop and that one kid sings along to Journey
54. Kid drawings
55. Kids that e-mail you years later
56. Kids that come with their siblings to night events just to see you
57. A teacher down the hall who brings you a cookie just because
58. Leftover snacks in the break room
59. Teachers who share great ideas
60. Teachers who share great documents
61. Teachers who value conversation
62. Teachers who inspire you to be great
63. Teachers who help you with new ideas
64. Teachers who are excited about new technology
65. That kid that asks if they can borrow a book
66. That kid that brings in an artifact to help with our learning
67. When you see a kid help another kid who doesn’t understand
68. When a kid doesn’t know a word and other kids offer to help and don’t laugh
69. The cheers that we give for great news
70. The community that we have when someone has sad news
71. The cheesy videos of adults acting like dendrites
72. The neurons made of noodles
73. Construction paper
74. Blogging
75. Kid presentations and all their awkward glory
76. Shy kids stepping up
77. Loud kids stepping back
78. When a kid tells you that they’re sorry and they mean it
79. When a kid asks if you can come to their baseball game
80. When a kid wants to know how your weekend was
81. When a kid asks if they can take something home to work on it some more
82. When kids get excited about math
83. When kids have on task chats about their learning
84. When kids write you notes
85. When you come home tired but you know you made a positive difference in a kids life today
86. When you spend all your free time thinking about your kids because you care
87. When your kids watch football because they like what you like
88. When your kids ask you to read your favorite book from when you were a kid
89. When your significant other says they’re proud of you
90. When you look in the mirror and you’re proud of you.
91. Dance Breaks
92. Dance Breaks
93. Dance Breaks
94. Dance Breaks
95. Dance Breaks
96. Dance Breaks
97. Dance Breaks
98. Dance Breaks
99. Dance Breaks
100. Dance Breaks