Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Have I done enough?

Jen, my friend, has a saying that I just love. She says, "I just don't want to get to the end of my career and wonder, did I do enough?" The Literacy Teacher asked last night what we were going to do with our "one wild and precious life?" This is what I responded with to that question:

"Support change: I look at older teachers that buck change and they are so unhappy in the profession. They blame it on the kids, the administration, parents, etc. They don't want to change, are too scared to change, or have no knowledge of what is out there? Those teachers that do support change and have been teaching for years: those people are so contagious to be around. They have so much background knowledge, years of pushing against the regime of mediocrity. They are who I plan to be. Someday I want a 30 something teacher to be looking up at me and be in awe. I want to be contagious, about anything that I deem valuable. If I can live this way, my family, my marriage, my profession will be better. I plan to change: into who I am supposed to be!"

I wanted to unravel this for you a little bit. I am not talking about the "unhappy" teachers. We know who they are. They are in every building across America. We know what they do, how they do it, we just don't understand why they continue to do it. They give our profession a bad name. I refuse to give them anymore space than this on my blog!

I want to talk about teachers that I know who have supported change over the years. I am not saying, change willy nilly. I am saying the change that occurs after weighing all other options. In order to know the options you have to be knowledgeable about best practices and what is new out there. You also have to use a good level of common sense. What programs make the most sense? Look at your own building. Who has been teaching a long time and yet is really great with their students. Who do you see that is growing still, even after all of their years? I have four:

Reading Recovery Teacher: 30 plus years, I have so much respect for her job. She is just outstanding. She serves our school. I serve on a board with her and I love picking her brain about stuff. She is not stuck in the mud but she mulls it over and picks out the good points . She uses common sense, things that have been good quality ideas forever! She is not afraid to ask questions, and she praises you for a job well done. She also asks you to be reflective when things don't go well.

Kindergarten teacher: Across the hall I work with an exceptional teacher. Graduates come back just to visit her. She closes her door and magic happens. She is satisfied with being the Kindergarten teacher, not that that would be dissatisfying ever. Those kids are so prepared when they leave her. She has had to change over the years but she has evolved into something spectacular!

K-2 specialist- Comes to my room for a half-hour daily and my kids beg to be in her group. She is so good about generating strategies for one student that could help. She gets discouraged when they don't work. She takes it personally when her students aren't achieving what they should. And she is willing to change if it keeps occuring.

Language Arts Facilitator: Hello, Jen and I led her into the blog world! She personafies change. She left her job, school system, and city to come and work with us crazy girls. I think she loves it, she is always smiling? She always accepts my questions and tries to understand. She then helps me pick out the great stuff and disposes of the rest. She's always willing to change direction if she needs to.

These ladies encourage me. I look around and I just remember the greatness around me. I get to work toward that greatness everyday. "This is who I am going to be," I say in my heart. Ultimately, at the end of my career and life I want to pull into my parking spot, hair blowing in the breeze, skin wrinkled by a good, long, life- a little out of breath, but living and loving every minute of it! Hopefully, it will be near my good friend Jen, she will nod to me and I will concur: "We did enough!"


Stacey Shubitz said...

This is simply brilliant. I have tears welling up my eyes. You captured each of your colleagues so beautifully. Have you shared this post with them?

Stacey Shubitz said...

Add your post to Mr. Linky at the bottom of this:

Jen Barney said...

You little so and so--- you made me get happy tears... I agree with you- We do have amazing teachers that we are surrounded by! I don't hope, I know that at the end... we'll go hand in hand and KNOW we made a difference!

Kathy Douglas said...

You made my day! I, too, want to be a teacher who is willing to change. Thank you for your kind words. I got two calls this week from your fellow teachers. These two teachers are also excited about the change they want to see in their classrooms. Your enthusiasm and energy is catching. Keep passing it on to ALL of your peers. You have no idea how many lives you are touching!

Sarah said...

Thank you so much for your positive words. I worry that I embrace change too quickly. Yet, I am so passionate about it. I feel as if I annoy my school district with my questions. People tell me I think too much. Your words help me to realize that I am not alone in the way that I think, about people, about school. It's good to know I am not alone. We try hard to look at our students differently. We recognize each has her own unique learning style, strengths, weaknesses. Then we need to remember that these children become adults, some of them teachers. And teachers too are all different, with their own unique voices, strengths, weaknesses. So instead of judging other teachers, I also need to remember that they, like the children, all have their own ways of learning. I'm just lucky that blogging supports my learning strengths in reading and writing. Thanks again for your deep thoughts about teaching and learning.