This quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson comes to mind when I hear about educational reform. One of the 10 articles on the ASCD site caught my attention more than the others because the title was speaking my language…the language of action. Be about it please!
The article, “Moving Beyond Talk” speaks about urban school districts that launched AND sustained strong learning communities. Watch out now because here comes my passion. I have been working in and with urban school districts for years. I am so tired of talking about reform. Can we just do it? Sounds silly doesn’t it? Its not. Your voice doesn’t need to be heard your actions need to be seen.
Reform can happen in the the smallest corner on earth and make the biggest difference. Where we see change is where we see action. Administrators making a plan, but carrying it out. Teachers deciding that complaining about how “bad” or “dumb” or “unteachable” our students are is a waste of time. Make a lesson plan…learn something new in technology and integrate it no matter how small into your curriculum, teach from bell to bell and then teach some more. Ok, how about this…learn the scope and sequence of what you are to teach like the back of your hand and then take your students to another level and allow the standards-based curriculum to be the floor not the ceiling.
I know a lot of teachers work hard…but many don’t. How long do you spend preparing for your lessons? Have you assessed your students’ learning styles? Do you stop to realize that maybe these children are reachable if we will just extend our arms just a little more? Oh, please believe I have had some doozies (would say something else, but I’m online 😉 But, what I learned was some of them just needed to see a glimmer of light to know that the darkness is only temporary.
No more waiting on a turn-around model or a Race to Top Program, a new principal or a new department chair to TELL you to move into gear…get to stepping yourself and educate these children for the future…not our past. If they don’t know how to read…teach them. If they can’t complete a sentence and don’t know what the X an adjective is…teach them. If they come to you in 8th grade with a 6th grade understanding of Math…teach them. If you don’t want to do this…don’t teach. Cathleen, you are tripping…no I’m not. I have taught these children. And when I felt I had done all I could in the classroom I moved on in a different direction, but one that still led indirectly back to them. I became and administrator.
The above applies to administrators, curriculum coordinators, directors, executive directors, model lead teachers and on and on. We can talk ALL day long about how bad we think the state of education is. Wait on the great white horse of reform to save us from the horror of our classroom…wake up…you are the one who has the power…and guess what…you have had all the time.
I know many won’t agree, but I remember being the person I am speaking of. I couldn’t stand my kids, I complained about them all the time until a wise person told me this, “get off your butt and teach these children like your life depends on it, because someday it will. If you don’t want to be here leave, but you remember this baby, they didn’t fail, you did”. After that, the talking became less and Action reared her beautiful head. The effort it took to complain about the kids was more exhaustive than planning new and innovating things for them to do in the classroom. My students STILL call me to this day and tell me how some of the most simple things (in my mind) changed their life.
I am an Invictus fan. My father made me memorize this powerful poem at age 10! After really understanding the poem…I realized it was applicable to my classroom experience.
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
-William Ernest Henley
YOU have the power. YOU are the reformist. You are the master of your classroom, the captain of the educational journey! What will you do with this power? Will you talk the talk…or walk the walk? Actually, you better run the race cause they need us more than ever before.
The Cre8tiv Mind