Tuesday, October 9, 2007

find your own yellow sun

Felt good today, didn't it?

What are you talking about?

Being in that classroom.

I accepted an invitation to listen to a student tell an anecdote about taking an SAT tutoring course via Skype with a tutor that lived in India. I mean, I'm a tech coach, so any flat world stuff is bound to interest me, and hearing a student example would really resonate with the students. Anyone in my position would go.

Did you leave after Mike told his story?

Well, no. Students asked questions. They wanted to know more. They expressed opinions. They referred to selected readings from Thomas Friedman's The World Is Flat that they read.

And did you participate?

Come on now. I read the book. I asked probing questions. I took a moment to teach.

THERE IT IS! I knew it, you knew it. Don't deny it. You are meant to be in the classroom. You saw those seniors and you thought, in a way, that they were rightfully yours. If this grant hadn't come in to play, you would be in your cushy room with them. You would greet them at the door every day. You would show genuine interest in their lives. You would hold high expectations and high accountability over them. You would establish a rapport of mutual respect; a classroom where students worked hard without you ever having to napoleon authority over them. You would end every day with personal reflection. You would ask yourself how you plan to improve your instruction to engage and push more students. You would immediately begin revising whatever plan you had in place for tomorrow because you've learned that teaching is all gymnastics and Kleenex. You would -

And so maybe you're right. Maybe you've finally put words to the thoughts which stab my brain, thoracic cavity, and heart every day. Maybe I see that a teacher teaches. He doesn't totally abandon the classroom for wikis and twitter and un-conferences. He stays in the classroom. He demands that he retain at least one class. He knows that he needs that contact as much as the students. He realizes that a change agent doesn't take the diluted path of PD and co-teaching. He teaches.

Because the art, skill, and desire never leaves those who love teaching.

Because I love teaching.

And there it is.


Taylor said...

You really never do fail to make me think. That's what great teachers do.

So many thoughts I can't hardly start:

- I agree completely.
- But lately I don't feel the "skill, art, or desire"
- I don't think that's wrong.
- I think teachers also need to learn.
- Teachers also need to have intellectual freedom.
- Sometimes, even in richly challenging and completely free environments, it's just time to retreat, take a "sabbath" if you will, and just learn something and recharge.
- But since it's a do-or-die situation what do I choose? My own sanity & learning? or my job as a "teacher"

Taylor said...

Also: wanting to be a change agent, so you can actually try to make things better in a real way for more kids isn't a diluted path.Nobody but you can do it.The other education "reformers" are graduates from Plantation Owner's Tech and want to measure everything with a scan tron.

Damian said...

I love teaching; I hate the BS.

Here's a different spin on it: in my new position as a school psychologist, how does that empower me to affect change in ways I couldn't as a classroom teacher? Does stepping outside the classroom afford me any more latitude or influence, esp. considering the legally binding power of IEPs? Hmm...

This will be one strand of thought for the next few months for me. Will blog on it soon and invite the wrath of the masses upon my head.

kenrodoff said...

@damian: I guess I'm just totally confused about the concept of affecting change.

what does change agent mean? what did it look like when I was in the classroom? what change was I affecting?

"muddy, murky moat water" - Annie, "The Little Einsteins"