#edblogaday Encourager

dave_willis_encouragerMay 8th Prompt

What did you learn from Teacher Appreciation Week?

I learned that teachers are encouragers.  I learned that those who understand teaching are encouragers. I learned that those who write about the realities of teaching are encouragers.

Why? Because that’s a key role of a teacher: to encourage.

And despite all the critics of education and of teachers, back in the classroom teachers are still encouragers.  Teachers don’t give up on others, on themselves, or on their students.

And those who encourage others offer hope — hope that may be the opening of a dream, the unlocking of a blocked learning, or the boosting of confidence to make it through the day.

A simple word of encouragement unfolds hope and confidence.

It’s the constant in each moment of teaching.

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Image Credit:  Encouragement / Critic See Dave Willis

Encouragement / Hope / Confidence  Sheri Edwards


WC: 142

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#edblogaday Celebrate Teachers

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Celebrate Teachers

Remember your best learning experience? Chances are it wasn’t a test, a skill, or a set of facts. Chances are it was the interactions and relationships while completing some assignment. Chances are it was the “doing,” and most often the “doing together.”

Why do we or should we celebrate teachers?  Because they dare to find the best in the students and the best ways to engage them. Because they dare to overcome the outside mandates and create learning experiences that matter most: a classroom community of learning together using the strengths students bring to help each other learn. It’s creating that atmosphere of doing and learning together — and learning how to do that — which helps kids learn what it means to participate, support, and succeed in any endeavor.

Teachers reach each kid, and guide each of them to reach out to others to share what they know. Teachers nurture a sense of community so that each person can become a leader of their communities in the future.

They embody, in small and large moments of learning, what John Dewey explained:

Give the pupils something to do, not something to learn;

and the doing is of such a nature

as to demand thinking;

learning naturally results.dewey_doing

Celebrate teachers:

they are the human element of the classroom that inspires the future.


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#edblogaday #thankateacher

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Thank a Teacher

I thank Mrs. Ricketts.  Yes, that was her name. She taught fifth grade. She had taught my uncle. She was old. But she knew kids, and she knew to get kids to love reading, they needed to know the excitement and wonder of the words in a book. So she read to us every day. She read The Jungle Book and The Secret Garden. I remember how amazed I was that the stories could bring the world right into our minds. I learned to like reading.

She also knew that kids needed to learn certain life skills. I was an extremely shy kid, and the project work scared me: we had to form a committee, meet outside class at someone’s house, and plan our project and presentation.

I don’t remember the project. I just remember that I learned to speak up, to listen, to help the group, and to do my part. I learned that a team of people could make decisions that created something others wanted to learn about.

For sure, I don’t remember the project or its topic, but I do remember that those requirements helped me come out of my shell and be part of a group. It wasn’t so scary.

The things we learn from teachers that are most important are not the skills and the facts: it’s the love of learning and the relationships in a learning community that are the most important to know. I thank Mrs. Ricketts for teaching me those things.

We’ve grown away from that somewhat, because we must meet our mandates and raise our scores. It adds a pressure that sometimes overlooks these human skills we need. So we need to remember the “Mrs. Ricketts” of the world and let teachers teach what is truly important. Kids need to love school as an expansion of their learning community.

#edblogaday This is My Teacher

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Day 6 Topic: How will we know when our profession is respected?

Answer 1:

I know our profession is respected when I’m out in the community and a student runs over to me and says to his or her friends or family, “This is my teacher.”

Answer 2:

I will know when our profession is respected when I’m out in a community meeting and someone says, “Let’s ask her; she’s a teacher.”

Answer 3:

I will know when our profession is respected when I’m in a school planning committee on any level, local, state, national, international, and teachers are expected to guide the direction, solution, and policy based on their known expertise.

Answer 4:

I will know when our profession is respected when teachers’ assessments are the most important data points.

Answer 5:

I  will know when our profession is respected when everyone believes, “Teachers reach into the future; let them teach.”

What’s your answer?


Word Count: 150

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#edblogaday test and time

Learning Is Hard Fun note

Day 3 topic: What’s your biggest concern about teaching and what can we do about it?

A student quoted me earlier this year, and posted the note by my phone as she left the room. Learning is hard fun: it’s a challenge that we choose to take and persevere until we succeed. And we have help along the way, from our teacher and our peers. We form a learning community that builds success through choices, teams, collaboration, lessons, and feedback. It feels good to succeed, and to have an authentic project to share with others.

My biggest concern is twofold: time and tests.

The focus on tests leads away from authentic projects and time for real learning, the kind that happens when you’re in the flow of something you are passionate about. Learning is hard fun, but testing has nothing to do with learning, and everything to do with labeling. Throughout all our project work, we set goals, timelines, and sharing; we provide feedback and revise; we revise our plans and adapt to each learner so that learner can succeed in his/her project. Those times — the sharing, peer and teacher review, feedback: those are the tests that matter and that promote learning. It’s a continuous and fluid process that required state and federal tests interrupt. For days. Sometimes Weeks. There’s something wrong about that.

What can we do about it?  Stop test prepping. Speak up. Teach the things that matter and learn with our students about the things that matter today. If students become engaged, inquisitive, and passionate learners that create for those wonders and passions, then they will have the skills needed for their future — to see and solve problems and issues collaboratively with others using clear communication and team skills with peers, the community, and in global connections.

deweysreLet’s do things in our classrooms, and share with each other. Let’s create and build. Because doing is learning, and learning is hard fun.

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So much more could be said about tests and time, but I’ve got no more time today. I’ve been working this sunny weekend on projects that other school departments need this week. We’re a small school and every teacher has more to do than is possible to get done in the day; these were my extra duties. There’s no time for it to get done during the school day — I teach all day, and before / after school, I’m assessing, replanning, finding resources and interventions for the next day so students succeed. I don’t think most people understand this. Janelle Wilson and Pernille Ripp have written eloquently about this. Read their blogs and wonder, “How do teachers do it?”

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Source: NCEE.org

What is the answer? First of all, there’s research that American teachers work far more hours with far less collaboration and planning time than in other countries. Search it out. Speak up.

Secondly, as Pernille says, A choice. Next weekend, I’m not. I’m not taking my weekends; if it needs to be done, somehow the time in the day must be found for it. I know; it won’t happen. A huge graduation project is coming and I won’t let the kids down. Still… where is my time? my family’s time? What have I missed? Think about it and please do thank a teacher. I just realized it’s National Teacher Week next week. Give one a hug.

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In conclusion, time and tests are my biggest concern — they detract from the classroom and families in some way, either taking time away from learning, or taking time away from families.  What can we do? Keep up the good work to make “learning is hard fun,” and

Speak up.


Word Count 610

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