Image

What I’ve learned my first year out of the classroom!

teachers9

Hi, My Loves∼

Hope your summer is off to a great start!!!

As you all know I left the classroom last November, as a teacher, but returned as a literacy coach working primarily with teachers in the classroom side by side focusing on everything literacy.  Not that I am an expert as I am still learning.

Most of my work involved having conversations with teachers and administrators to find areas in which teachers wanted to continue growing. With the hope that students would benefit academically.

Research shows that if we can get children on or above reading level in the early years before 3rd grade, their chances of success across the board increases.  We also know that reading – as cliche as it sounds – is FUNDAMENTAL.

“We know that children who are not kindergarten ready are half as likely to read well by third grade, and research has shown that quality pre-K has lasting positive impacts on children’s health, social-emotional, and cognitive outcomes,” said CLI CEO Joel Zarrow. “We are grateful for the opportunity to support teachers in implementing effective early literacy practices and fostering student growth so that more children enter kindergarten fully prepared. While CLI has been supporting pre-K instruction for over 15 years, RFA’s evaluation will help us to continue refining and improving our Blueprint curriculum and professional development so that we continue to see even better outcomes for students and teachers.” Children’s Literacy Initiative

Anyway with all that said I went into the classrooms armed with research and some best practice models to support teachers. Hopefully.

Now I have to say I was a little worried and maybe slightly intimidated, after all who was I to tell anyone that it could be done better.  My experience as a teacher reminded me that as  teachers we are very possessive of our classrooms and our students.

We already have plenty of folks telling us what we are doing wrong, so I wanted to make sure that I celebrated my teachers for all their accomplishments first and recognized the amazing work they were already doing.  I entered the classroom with a different approach – educators are always learning and growing.

Now I have to say that being on the outside looking in, I don’t really know how I lasted as long as I did.

Teaching has to be the most unappreciated profession out there.  Like literally at the bottom of the career totem pole.

It’s a wonder we even have people who still want to teach.

Talk about the pressures!!!  My teachers never knew from one day to the next what to expect.  They were bombarded daily with data, data, data.  They were bombarded with daily mandates to try this and or that,  never giving one thing a chance to see if it worked.  They were bombarded with daily walkthroughs by individuals – groups of individuals – who are so far removed from the realities that occur in the classrooms telling them “students are failing because you’re failing”.

Imagine going to work everyday knowing that others already thought you failed?!?!

I found myself clearly being able to empathize as I was fresh out of the classroom.

I would walk into classrooms to find my teachers rushing to meet deadlines, testing deadlines, bulletin board deadlines, pressure to increase reading scores with no regard to all it entails to be prepared to enter classrooms and teach all with a smile and hunched shoulders. Sad.

Let me explain to you all that is required to go into a classroom to teach your children.

Lesson plans so detailed that it takes hours and hours to prepare without a curriculum to fall back on or use as a resource.  Analyzing of data to see where they failed and what needs to be done to do better.  Testing on a weekly sometimes daily basis.  Differentiation of independent work time to 20 students sometimes more because a teacher is out for weeks sometimes months without a substitute.  Missed preps (planning time) that are crucial planning for teachers so they have less to take home.  Going into grade level meetings where you are not asked for your input but rather told what to do by people who do not know your kids.  Leveling libraries, posting student work monthly with constructive feedback students can’t understand.  Literally squeezing every minute, every second of everyday with so much “stuff” it’s too much to list.

My head spins just thinking about it.

All of this without one word of appreciation from ANYONE, sometimes parents included because they’ve been sucked into this culture of you need to pressure your kids to do more more more- some of which is not even developmentally appropriate.

And FYI, this is at the primary level, Kindergarten to 2nd grade, let’s not even talk about the upper grades.

Listen at the end of the day we all want our children to strive in schools.  To feel loved and cared for.  But isn’t it time to just stop and let teachers teach?  I thought if the goal is to get our students to love reading, why not let them read? Why not let them manipulate books? Why not let children develop a love of reading so they can desire reading? Why not allow teachers to model what reading is? Holding a book in a quiet corner of the classroom while everyone interacts with books.

Why is a 1st grader expected to think critically about books instead of enjoying them?

Anyway, I am getting off on a tangent, but you get the drift, right? I hope.

I don’t know if this is the end all, be all for me, however, I did learn that teachers really need a cheerleader in their corner and I hope I was that for the teachers I met and worked with. teacher7

They were one of the most caring, dedicated, and professional bunch I’ve ever worked with and I give them KUDOS for the work they do- day in, day out.

Teaching is not an easy task, it requires a person to really love it, to do it well.

So the next time you think about your child and teachers and schools remember this:

Teachers are not only educators, they are nurses, social workers, psychologists, and even parents to your children who you have entrusted to them for nearly 8 hours a day if you count before school and after care. teachers6

Teachers don’t need accolades.  I didn’t.  I just wanted someone to believe in me and that I was doing my best work, out of love.

So thank a teacher next time you go for a parent teacher conference, or an event a school or even merely seeing your child’s teacher out at Target or something.

I learned a lot this year and know I have so much more to grow and learn to do my best work.

One of my favorite quotes is from the Bible, 1 Corinthians 16:14, “Do everything in love.”

I know I try every time I walk into my school building and I know the teachers I worked with definitely do!

Thanks my loves for stopping by and reading.  Happy Summer!

teacher3.jpg

♥LolaUncorked

 

 

 

 

Image

Why I decided to leave the classroom….

Hi My Loves!  I am so excited to announce that I am officially leaving the classroom after almost 14 years!

IMG_0001 (1)
On my way to a new adventure…. PC | geri1221

I did it!  I am so excited to venture out into something new, though leaving my longest running job is bittersweet and scary.  Notice I called it a job,  not a career, because that’s really what it has become for me.  A job I had to go to so I can have an income and be an adult.

I was passionate and excited about teaching maybe 3 out of the 14 years I’ve done it. In the short time (and I say that in comparison to friends who have been teaching for over 20 years) the shift in education has been disheartening and disenfranchising.   

It seemed that every year there were new initiatives and mandates put into place by individuals so far removed from the classroom they wouldn’t survive a day. 

A profession that commanded the highest level of  respect back in the day has now placed teachers at the bottom of the societal totem pole.

Why did I stay so long? Well, #1 I racked up tons of student loans to pursue what I thought was a respectable and rewarding career.  And I needed to pay them off.  (Which I haven’t). #2 I was working on a pension and retirement.  And  #3, most importantly, because every year I really believed something would reignite in my soul and I would be like “Woohoooo!”  Sometimes it did, but that fire quickly simmered down to a dying ember.  Sad but true.  

I went back to school for two reasons: One my kids, my girls.  I kept saying how do I instill in them the importance of education if I hadn’t placed importance on it myself.      

The second reason is that while working at Montclair State University in their education center, this professor who later became my boss, mentor and friend, looked at me one day and said, “You HAVE to go back to school!  Let’s get you a PhD!”

Ha! Really???  I was just trying to wrap my mind around a bachelor’s degree.  Especially since at that point, I already had two kids and worked full-time.

That’s where it all started.  In retrospect, I really loved what I was already doing   supporting teacher candidates, graduate assistants, my boss and other faculty in the teacher education department.  But, I believed in order to be credible in the field of education, I had to get my teaching degree and get some experience in the trenches.  And boy did it feel like the trenches!   

edpolicy
And who are the experts? The front line – teachers!

Little did I know that the disconnect between theory and practice is so wide that I could have totally stayed in my job and done an amazing job supporting others.

But we live and we learn.  Now thousands and thousands of student loans later,  I have eagerly decided to hang up my dry erase markers (yes, because I don’t even have a Smart Board this year) and leave the classroom.

I haven’t loved it in a very long time.  I’ve had moments of love and passion for sure, but those feelings were repeatedly squashed by over zealous administrators, red tape, favoritism, nepotism, sexism, to name a few.

Each September, I kept thinking:

IMG_9447
I’ve done a lot of thinking and praying about making a move….

“This year, I will feel completely supported and prepared to service my kids.”

“This will be the year that the powers-that-be finally decide to back off and just let me teach.”

“This will be the year where the assessment is aligned to the curriculum to the state standards to my students’ language levels and abilities and culture and backgrounds.”

That year never came.

And so I’ve decided to leave, not completely leaving the profession.  I will still be in an educational setting but working for a non-profit corporation that supports literacy practices in a public school setting.  I am EXCITED!

But I wanted to leave administrators, instructional coaches, superintendents, curriculum writers, parents and policy makers with this:

Before you criticize or demonize (as has happened to many of us) a teacher, think of the task you are asking teachers to take on – educator, mother, nurse, social worker, psychologist, interventionist, for pennies a day.

Before you jot down that 1 or 2 on a teacher’s observation report, because you as an administrator need to show data growth think about what that 1 or 2 does to your teacher’s motivation level and how that impacts his/her work in the classroom.

Before you go on your walk thrus change your mindset from a negative one to a postive one so you can catch all the good that is going on versus the one or two things that might be going wrong that day.

Before you give feedback to a teacher about what to make better, make sure its something that you yourself can go in there and model and do well.

Before any of you make another policy regarding children and schools, spend ONE day in a classroom where there are 25 1st graders some with classifications that are not being serviced, no books, no reading rug, no supplies, whose parents don’t speak the language or have limited education or work 15 hour days, where all the kids are on different academic and behavioral levels.  One day!  I can guarantee many wouldn’t last a half.

Listen, I am not asking for pity on teachers for the work they chose to do, what I am saying is to be a little more empathetic and thankful for the work teachers are doing day in and day out across the nation.

I don’t know what this new career will bring for me, but I can say that I was able to recognize that I could no longer go to a place where every morning it felt like a chore and every evening was filled with anxiety thinking of the next day. 

I recognized that I was doing my students and myself a huge disservice going there.

I have made some amazing friends and have met some amazing teachers doing amazing work despite all the people working against them and I wish them continued success.

I leave you with this thought: 

“I think that education in our country is going to self-combust and when the dust settles, my hope is that those “others” will finally let teachers teach.”

Thanks for stopping by.  Remember to like, comment, follow and share!

dont-just-teach.jpg

LolaUncorked♥