education reform

The Creation of the Lifelong Learner

Crossposted from The Cooperative Catalyst





“Mommy!!!  BUG!!!”  Thea screams at me as we walk around our deck.  ”Lookit mommy, bug,” she runs to me grabs my hand and pulls me near. Behold; the lifelong learner sans education.
Children are naturally curious; if you give them a box they are not allowed to open, they will beg and beg until they finally get to peek inside.  If you tape a box on the floor of your classroom, they will continue to guess at its purpose even past the big reveal.  Children do not need rules to be curious, or even strategies. They are born with this ability.  Now as educators we may fine-tune these skills but schools cannot take credit for their natural curiosity.
So why is it so many schools have a vision statement that includes “creating lifelong learners?”  Why this need to take credit for something they have not indeed created?   Do schools really think that children are not learners when they first enter the hallowed hallways and they therefore need to be fixed?   What an offensive statement to parents everywhere.  Yet schools and the rigidity of some classrooms can often be the reason that the lifelong learner is stymied.  Schools end up breaking the child’s curiosity only to try to take credit for it being re-built.
I would like to see a school with a vision that declares they want to “maintain lifelong learners.”  I would like to see a vision in which children are recognized as the insatiably curious learners they truly are.  We have to change our schools to allow time for curiosity and true exploration.  We are not in the business of creating robots, and yet, that is the direction our government wants to push us.  Bring back the curiosity, maintain the lifelong learner, and perhaps then our system wont seem so broken.
education reform, students

Come Into Our Room

You say our kids are failing, not learning enough.  I say come into my room and see these kids.  Come into my room and tell them to their face that are failing, that they are not doing enough to learn.  To maintain, to comprehend, to test better.  Those kids you talk about happen to be my kids as well.  Those kids you mention in your articles, in your rhetoric, in your posts that tell us teachers that we are not doing enough, those kids are in my room.  And those kids…. they work and they work hard.

They get so excited sometimes that they yell out.  They get so loud in their planning that I just let them work because I don’t want to intrude.  They break their pencils because they just want to scribble so fast when inspiration strikes. They come to me and wonder what else can we do?  What other things may we try?  Is this idea any good?  And I say yes, try it, do it, think it, dream it.  You may not think that our kids are doing enough in school.  You may not think that our kids are learning enough.  I say, come into my room and we will prove you wrong.

being me, education reform, occupyedu

We Did It to Ourselves

Play nice, don’t fight, don’t whisper and give compliments.  Share, take interest and never, ever be critical.  Highlight others before yourself, don’t ask for special treatment, share your voice but take turns.  Rules we teach our kids?  Sure, but also rules that we teachers are expected to follow.  So when we look around and wonder how we as a group get such little respect by some politicians, by some media, even by some parents, administrators, and fellow teachers, the truth is; we did it to ourselves.

Teachers are their own worst enemy it seems.  We are not expected to share our successes in case someone gets offended that they are not being highlighted.  We are not expected to shine a light on the things we do well in our jobs, and there are many, because someone may get jealous.  We shouldn’t draw attention, rather pass it to our kids.  We shouldn’t tell people our pay, or how many hours we put in but rather stand as saints hoping someone might notice.  Indeed we are expected to stand up for our students, but not for ourselves because it is just so uncouth.  We are supposed to be selfless, with no wants besides the basics; food, shelter, and maybe some respect.  We are not supposed to say that we would like better pay for the incredible amount of work we do.  We are not supposed to say; look at me, look at what I do, and give me some respect.  (Which yes, can be done in a nice manner, that then can be easily dismissed).

Teachers should play nice, like we tell our students.  Don’t cause too many waves because it is unbecoming of our profession.  Don’t raise your voice too much because you may offend.  Whatever happens to us, happens, because we choose to not raise our voice, to not band together, and instead waste our time fighting amongst ourselves.  It is time to rise up, it is time to raise our voice, to occupy our classrooms and stand tall.  To highlight the incredible work we do, to get the respect we deserve.  To be treated like we treat our students.  So as I give my students  a voice, I allow myself to speak as well. We are the 99% and together our whispers will become a roar.

Be the change, being a teacher, education reform

An Easy Statement

You know what is easy to say? That our education system is broken. It is also easy to say that it is because of standardized tests, because of politicians, too much red tape and clueless administrators. We need more money, we need smaller class sizes, more time, more enthusiasm. I could go on listing all of the things we need.

And yet, at some point we must own up to our own responsibility. At some point we must change our statements and no longer just say that the system is broken. At some point we must say, I am part of the solution. That perhaps not everything in the system is broken but that there are flaws and we can do something about it.

Saying the system is broken is too easy. It removes responsibility. Take the responsibility, be the change, and then spread the word.

being a teacher, change, education reform, Student

But Wait, I ‘m Only One Person

As I am continually awed by the incredible educators I get to teach with not only in my school, but also in the world, I am renewed in my already strong belief that we are the change.

We are the change for all of those children whose lives have been determined by assumptions, circumstance, and test scores outside of their control.

We are the change for all of those teachers who don’t think they have a voice.  You do.  So although you may just be one person, there are so many things you can do to change the system.  To bring the focus back on the kids, on improving teaching conditions, and keeping our students passionate and curious.  So

Stand up for yourself.

Speak up – one voice joins the chorus and together we are louder.

Blog, write to the paper, get it out and spread the word.  Change will come if we continue to fight for it.

Join together – enough of the us versus them debate.  Enough with tearing other teachers down.  Show me a perfect teacher and I will show you 10 people that disagree.  We are not perfect nor should we ever think we are; embrace each other, and stand together, this is for the kids.

Tell them they matter.

Realize that you matter.

Try your ideas and then be proud if they work.  Be proud if they fail, at least you tried something.

Believe in them, believe in you, and believe in your team.

Be the change.  Be the change.  Be the change.

You may be just one but think of how far one person’s words can go, the ripples they can start, the waves they can become.

being a teacher, education reform

We Have It All Backwards

When the solution to budget problems becomes to bring in new unexperienced teachers because they are cheaper – we have it all backwards.

When decisions that affect our children on a day to day basis are made only at the government level – we have it all backwards.

When teachers performance are closely tied in with test scores created by test companies that making millions of dollars in profit off of their tests and programs – we have it all backwards.

When administrators try to build trust and collaboration but then take away the time to do it so that we can teach more – we have it all backwards.

When teachers try to restore discipline by setting more rules – we have it all backwards.

When we give our students even more homework to cover all the stuff we didn’t have time to cover in class – we have it all backwards.

When we blame technology for not being the magic pill to raise test scores – we have it all backwards.

When we buy more stuff for our schools rather than raise teacher salaries – we have it all backwards.

It is time to go forward not backward.