Super Teacher's Job is Never Done!

Super Teacher's Job is Never Done!
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Teaching is the profession that teaches all the other professions. ~ Author Unknown

My goal is to reveal one teacher's humble journey of self-reflection, critical analysis, and endless questioning about my craft of teaching and learning alongside my middle school students.

"The dream begins with a teacher who believes in you, who tugs and pushes and leads you to the next plateau, sometimes poking you with a sharp stick called 'truth'." ~ Dan Rather

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Inspired by a True Mentor Every Day

I have been very distracted at work recently. I find my mind racing constantly as I think about my aunt losing her year-long battle with advanced cancer. She is my godmother and like a second mom to me, so you can imagine my anxiety and desire to be by her side in Maine rather than in DC.

Grieving aside, I am trying to be the kind of person she always has been, one who puts others above herself and never seems to have a bad day. My students often comment that I am always happy and have too much energy, which I suppose is a better compliment than being told I am a mean grouch. My Aunt Ellen always knows how to make people laugh, sees the positive side of every situation, and teaches those around her to be grateful and thankful for each day. Just as Randy Pausch inspired me two years ago with The Last Lecture book, my aunt is teaching me more about life through dying than I could have ever thought possible.

Every day, we bring our personal issues, baggage, opinions, beliefs, and assumptions into our classrooms. We hope to approach each new day with a positive outlook and fresh start mentality. We want the best for our students and desire to have the best intentions for each and every one of them. We also want to put our best foot forward and not give up on ANY student, regardless of how impossibly difficult or hopeless he or she may seem. However, as teachers, we are also human, and sometimes we are tired and want to throw in the towel.

At a school improvement meeting with two community superintendents today, I was reminded once again of my Aunt Ellen and why I entered the teaching profession in the first place. No day is easy, no day is predictable, and no day is guaranteed to be a success. We must have the courage to have difficult conversations with colleagues, the wisdom to know what's best for our students, and the sincerest intentions and inner core beliefs that ALL of our students can be taught -- and deserve nothing less than the highest quality education possible.

In every school today, as in society, race matters, and schools must engage in these difficult conversations about race and equity. After all, our schools are microcosms of society. We have to become comfortable talking about the uncomfortable. In doing so, we must never run down a child's ego and know enough that we CAN teach ALL children when we want to do so. To do, three conditions must exist in our classrooms:

1. High expectations for ALL students
2. Positive and CARING relationships
3. Cultural competence

The question then becomes -- How can we motivate our entire staff to be caring and meet or exceed these three important conditions? We need to have the WILL to make a difference.

One of the superintendents left us with a challenge at the end of this afternoon's meeting, asking, "Can your school be a poster child for building positive relationships with students in our county?" I'd like to think we can be, and I think I'd make Aunt Ellen proud in the process.

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