We need some changes in public education.
I am not talking about testing. Now, before some or you write me off please let me 'splain:
1. Standardized testing is zero fun for anyone involved.
2. Standardized testing makes our students nervous and frustrated.
3. Standardized testing has turned
4. But most disheartening is that standardized testing does not often reflect just how far a student has progressed during a school year.
HOWEVER, [Yes, I am shouting] STANDARDIZED TESTING AIN'T [It is my blog and I will use what ever kind of slang I choose] GOING ANYWHERE SO FIND A WAY TO DEAL WITH IT SO THAT IT DOES NOT CONSUME YOU.
FOR THOSE OF YOU NEW TO THE GAME, CLASSROOMS ARE FOR LEARNING.
I am not talking about pay raises. Please do not misunderstand: Short and I are flat broke 99.9% of the time because we are both educators. We could use a few extra pennies. Our pay has actually gone backwards because we have not seen an increase in pay in several years but our health insurance has skyrocketed...exponentially. [Incidentally that has not equated to better health care or coverage for any of us. Not shocked at all are you?] We would both like to further our our own educations and pursue our doctorates but with a daughter in college and a son close behind her, that is not our reality at the moment. It may never be our reality. [I am not whining or complaining...just being honest.] In the last several years there might have been opportunities to get ahead if the above situation with pay versus insurance had not been so significant. A pay raise would be nice but I am not holding my breath that one will come through..soon or ever. We manage and we have what we need. [You learn to get real creative with money when there isn't a lot around. Dave Ramsey is amazing and taught us a lot. We are still learning.]
While the two items from above are things that I think do make or break some educators, I am more concerned about something that I see as far more pressing in our schools today: attitudes. [I am not talking attitudes that can come from children but those that seem to seethe from adults in this profession.]
If there is one simple thing I have learned in 18 years of teaching it is that it only takes one attitude to make a change. One of my favorite people in the whole world, that I go all fangirl over, is Mother Teresa. I love this quote from her:
We, as educators, cannot change the culture of education if we do not change some negative attitudes inside the walls of our schools. #FACT
Teachers....we need to step it up and stop petty behavior by adults that threatens what we are trying to accomplish in schools: L. E. A. R. N. I. N. G.
Stop gossiping. Teaching middle school is a blast and I love it. [One must be slightly deranged, like me, to understand just how stinkin' fun middle schoolers are...even on bad days.] However, the drama that can be created between middle school students is NOT fun.
So why are there some teachers that act like middle school kids and stir the pot in the building? We are in education to teach children, just in case some of you forgot. When teachers [especially those that are veteran teachers] walk around and create controversy among the same staff that should be working together then how can students be learning?
Veteran teachers - I am speaking to you directly. Be the role model. Be the leadership that beginning teachers need to see AND hear. If you spend your time spreading gossip like the plague then that reflects poorly on you and your school.
If your main goal is to make sure that everyone in the building knows the latest gossip on any and everything then please know that you are doing nothing but causing problems and keeping your school from being the absolute best it can be.
Stop taking everything so personally. When did educators become so thin skinned? If you are not picked to be the featured classroom, the teacher who is showcased, asked to serve on a committee, chosen to lead something, etc. then guess what? Life. Goes. On. This is not your senior year in high school and you are not in a competition for senior superlatives. [Incidentally, I was not chosen for those either...] I truly believe for a school to be effective then different voices need to be heard and not always the same ones.
Believe it or not, a little encouragement of others, on days when you feel like you are not enough, will make YOU feel better. Make it your mission to find something good happening, on a daily basis, with those around you and tell them. If you only see your classroom and you as the one who needs the attention then you are stealing joy from everyone. I urge you...do not be a thief of joy.
Stop finding problems that do not exist. Honestly. STOP. Decisions are made based on entire body of people and really, should always be made in the best interest of students. So you disagree with an email or something someone did in their own classroom or you are not pleased with a situation...it happens. So put your grown up drawers on and get over it. As teachers, we have so much to deal with concerning students and learning - why add to that plate with "issues" that are not really important? Creating non-existent and piddly [I love that word...it is fun to say] problems only robs you of precious time to do something that does matter in the lives of children.
I am not a negative person. I did not put these thoughts down to run anyone in the ground or to flog educators. I am guilty of all of these things myself...trust me. There have been times in my teaching career that I have snatched misery and discontent straight out of the closet and worn them like badges of honor. All that ever did was make me worn out, pathetic, and useless to everyone.
I am urging you, teachers, to throw kindness around like confetti - especially towards the other adults you come in contact with on a daily basis. Change the culture in your school by bringing back joy, even when the chips are down. Teaching is a so very hard - we have to root for each other, pray for each other, encourage each other.
Make a choice to be the change. The solution. The positive.
Go find your stone.