Google+ Badge

Friday, November 11, 2016

Inspiration From My Son: Teach Well

I got a late night email from my son who is doing his college capstone project on education disparity. He was incredibly supportive and inspiring. In a sense, he encouraged me to keep speaking up, innovating, and working towards respectful advocacy. He mentioned that his research shows that too many schools are not serving students well for all kinds of reasons.

I recently  talked to a colleague who works in a system that is becoming devastated by lack of financial support, a big rise in students who have opioid addicted parents and siblings, lots of poverty, and few to no new programs, tools, or respectful leadership--it's a crisis where she teaches and the results of that crisis are going to be our fellow citizens, neighbors, and countrymen and women. We can't less this happen.

Once again I was inspired by our state education leaders. The MTA leadership did an amazing job with the vote no on two campaign. The state leadership responded with a promising video about working together. Our state has what it takes to continue to lead the country with top notch schools and efforts as we begin to tackle the language and efforts related to the new ESSA legislation.

I will do what I can to help bring the good language of the ESSA law to life in schools to better teach and support all students.

At my own school I'm digging in deeply to teach our many wonderful fifth grade students well with my incredible grade-level team of classroom educators, special educators, paraeducators, family members, students, and administrators. Four months ago the grade level teachers sat down to review the past teaching year and make plans for this year. Our plans have met a few snags with regard to timing and support, but overall the plan has been put in place and family members at the recent parent conferences have remarked that the field trips, teaching agenda, and efforts have been successful--we are really happy to hear that, and that inspires our next steps.

The changes in this year's routine began last January when we advocated for a better schedule. We spent a lot of time discussing that and creating a model for betterment. The small problems in last year's good schedule were eliminated and this year we have a terrific schedule thanks to the fact that our administrators and schedulers honored our efforts and advocacy.

Also we listened to students from last year and kept several signature events, events that students really liked such as the Cardboard Challenge and the McAuliffe Challenger Center trip. We built on the Cardboard Challenge project to include more supplies and a greater emphasis on teamwork early on which supported the project and overall sense of team and creativity. That was good.

We also continued with the showcase portfolio efforts which truly serve to support student reflection, direction, and voice. It's an effort well worth the time and focus.

Now as we move forward, we are working carefully to meet all the standards and program elements in place. We will also build upon our early cultural proficiency efforts including starting the year with the "My Three Words" video to give every child voice and recognition to greater focus on teamwork to writing grants to extend our cultural proficiency efforts to our trip to see "Akeelah and the Bee," professional learning at ECET2-MA2016 "Teach All Children" event, and a very sensitive and informative approach to the study of our democracy and the presidential election.

Next steps, in this regard, will include our efforts to study cultural proficiency more via information and books we've collected, implementation of grants if we get them, and a professional learning day to plan our intense study of Frederick Douglas including a visit to the African American Heritage Museum in Boston. Our trip to study the Maya, Inca, and Aztec cultures will support this as well.

Inspiration plays a big role in education, and I am thankful for the inspiration I get from so many including my son to continue this work. I am fortunate to work with many dedicated educators and hope that I can team, inspire, and collaborate with them in ways that forward what we can do with and for children to teach well. Onward.