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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation
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Teaching From the Edge: Thank You, Teachers, For All You Do

Chris O'Neal

Educational consultant and former Edutopia.org blogger

So, it's the end of the year, and my only child is finishing up elementary school. She'll enter middle school next fall after having a great elementary school experience. She's in public schools in Virginia, and they've done a fabulous job integrating our tough standards, and managing our painfully intense testing and accountability, all the while keeping a positive focus on the child.

Like every educator parent, there were times when I cringed a little about what was going on in class, or what wasn't going on. I think for those of us who have taught, we feel a little in the know and have our own ideas about how we might approach certain content strands or projects.

But I think I was always pretty good about just supplementing her learning outside the classroom. My daughter loves science, the outdoors, reading, piano, dance, and, of course, technology, so we've had lots of time and opportunity to link her out-of-school activities to what she's learning in the classroom.

As the year wraps up, and her elementary school days wind down, it's time for me to say to all the educator readers out there, and teachers everywhere, thanks for the great job you do. It's because of people like you that she's had such a great schooling experience during these early years.

Those of you who push the envelope a little, try some new technologies, and integrate some learning tools that might have met with skepticism from your peers -- you rogues are the ones who have helped make my daughter's education something more than just standards-based, robotic, accountability-driven education.

You've excited her; you've made the content "stick" better than it would have otherwise. You've made her come home and, on her own, want to keep doing what she did at school. She's had a great experience, and it's been exciting.

This corny message has been brought to you by a proud parent -- someone who is in schools all over the country, talking to teachers all the time. I hear your struggles, your frustrations, your need for more equipment and less restriction. I also hear you fighting the battles, not giving up, and putting the needs of your students out front.

If you've tried something you think pushed the envelope a little this year, share it here. Maybe you stretched your own comfort zone to do something edgy, but it ended up working out well? Now's your time to tell us about it. Were you hesitant at first with a new technology or approach? Why? How'd you pull it off?

Whatever you did, keep plugging along, because you are making a difference. It is appreciated, even if you don't always know that firsthand.

Chris O'Neal

Educational consultant and former Edutopia.org blogger
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