- What a Teacher Wants: One Teacher’s View - March 25, 2018
- Artist is Not a Dirty Word - March 18, 2018
- The Death of Reflection in English/Language Arts Classrooms - March 9, 2018
- More Than A Teacher - March 4, 2018
- Real Teaching Resolutions - January 5, 2017
- 23 Times I have Questioned My Sanity While Teaching - September 7, 2016
- Part 3: Adventures in Real Word English/Language Arts – Let Them Be Great - August 23, 2016
- Part 2: Adventures in Real World English/Language Arts: Making Them Care - August 4, 2016
- New School Year Advice from a Ten Year Teacher - August 1, 2016
- Adventures in Real World English/Language Arts: The Planning Stages - July 18, 2016
I’m a teacher. I believe in rules, structure, and consistency. To a point. I am not the end-all, be-all authority on education. I feel confident in my classroom and I know my students just like you know yours. But I am tired of people in positions other than in a classroom making decisions for my kids. I will quietly smile and nod while you tell me what is best for my students. That does not mean I will do everything you tell me. And that does not make me a bad teacher.
As any veteran teacher has, I have my beliefs and values about education and how I teach. I believe in the research paper. I do NOT believe in making high school students write vocabulary words, define them, test them, and watch them forget them. I know what the latest research says, and I also know that district and school leaders have paid thousands of dollars for this brand “new” program that was just dug up from 20 years ago and rebranded under a new name. I do not understand why we are paying thousands of dollars to a group of people who do not have the courage to try their own strategies in a classroom. District leaders, you have experts right here in your schools. Why don’t you pay them the money to give professional development sessions? Why are you wasting money on something that will be replaced in five years? Invest in your teachers who will be around for more than five years.
While I am always willing to try new strategies, I will not have a cookie cutter classroom. If you walk into the English I teacher’s classroom in the next city, I will not be doing the same thing on the same day. I won’t. Yes, we have the same unit plan and resources, thank you for that, but I will not be teaching things the same way in the exact same order.
Sometimes we need more time on a skill. Sometimes this article you have chosen will not connect with my students, but this one will and I can teach the same skill. I see that you want this novel taught, but you did not provide copies for my students. We do not have the money and I cannot afford 30 copies of that book. I have already spent my monthly allowance on computer paper, ink, and markers, and my husband would be very unhappy if I spent 300 more dollars on novels. So I am going to use this novel. The kids love it and I can teach the same standards with it.
I am not dismissing the materials we are constantly provided or the programs that are brought in. I will attempt to make them work for my kids. I love new things and spend my summers taking classes and researching ways to make myself a more effective teacher. I do not force everyone in my school to use what I find. I offer it, let them tweak it, or leave it behind. Not everything works for every teacher. Every state is different, even schools within a district are different. We cannot do things the same way. I will not water down curriculum. My students will be challenged, pushed, and they will succeed. I probably won’t use it exactly how Ms. Jones uses it because I am not Ms. Jones, and I do not have her students.
I may not always do things the way the powers that be might want them to be done, but I do know a few things. I know my students are learning, they are laughing, and they are happy. I know my high stakes scores are just as good as the school down the road. Dare I say, better? Because I am confident in ability as a teacher and no program bought from a company can provide that.
As I said, I will never disrespect your program, but if I don’t believe in it I will not do it. I will quietly teach my students my way. And the day my scores come back and they are awful, then you can force me to do things your way. Until then, I will do what works, for my students.