The special activity that has kept me engaged for three decades is the annual production of a Shakespeare play. It did not start out this way. Many good ideas evolve slowly, taking shape over many years and constantly getting better. The backstory of our productions might give you a notion of how your special idea might take shape and become a unique force in the life of your students.
One of the most common complaints I hear from teachers, administrators, and staff working in public schools is something along the lines of, "I don't feel appreciated." I'd like to propose that by simply incorporating a range of practices that allow ourselves and others to express gratitude, we might transform our schools.
There is a panic amongst writing teachers that is based on the myth that our baby, narrative writing, is shunned by the Common Core standards. I'm here to encourage everyone to take a deep breath and repeat after me: "Nobody puts baby in a corner."
She was a mentor. She was an innovator. She was a fighter for students, academic rigor, and achievement. I use the past tense not because my colleague has passed away but because her positivity has. And in so doing, administrators have lost a mediator, the staff has lost colleague, and the students have lost a guide.
What is new and different in the Common Core? When it comes to the writing standards, a heavy emphasis on audience for one thing, and this is very good news. The "audience" for student writing was once the lone teacher sitting after school with her cup of coffee, a red pen, and a stack of essays or other writing projects. And sadly, she might have been the only one, besides the student writers, that ever read them!
In my last blog post, I suggested that by seeing the film, Fruitvale Station, you could be taking one step towards creating a more just and equitable society. Educating ourselves is an important starting point in this effort, and here are some more actions you can take to unravel systemic oppression and its offspring, bias and prejudice.
Today is the anniversary of Mexico's independence from Spain. This happened in 1810 when Father Hidalgo rang his church bell and called his little town to action with the "grito" Viva Mexico! The resulting war for an independent free Mexico lasted for 10 years but in many respects it is still going on. As teachers, and as leaders in schools and districts, it's fundamental that we not forget this: The achievement of freedom from the tyranny of ignorance can only happen through education.
Welcome back to school. I hope everyone had a fulfilling summer and is ready to greet our new school year and eager students for the beginning of what will be the best year of teaching in our lives so far. I spent part of the summer writing a new short-form book for ASCD (in production, due for release in January). Working on this project raised several questions for me that I think make great topics for postings. One issue in particular kept popping in my head as I researched topics in the new book: does educational research really matter?
If you haven't yet seen Fruitvale Station, go see it now. This film will rip your heart open and leave you feeling raw, and you would be wise to let it do so. It will most likely change the way you see your students, in a way that will make you a better teacher. This film now tops my list of movies that teachers should see.
Earlier, I talked about the history of community building at Edutopia and the rationale for improvements coming to the site. Today's post is the first of two that will delve more deeply into some of the specific changes.