The Mariners won last night so that made my day better. They play again in about five minutes and I'm hopeful of a 2-0 beginning to the new season.
Thus week at school we are having a school-wide learning walk which is where teachers take their prep period and go observe other teachers to see what is happening in classrooms. It's a way to measure teaching, or what we used too refer to as "Powerful Teaching and Learning." I used to be a fan of this as it got me out of my classroom and into other rooms to see other teachers and their styles. The best part of it was debriefing afterward though. I think teaching is truly an art form and analyzing it and discussing it as such gave it credibility. The past couple years there has been a shift in focus toward on-time graduation rates though and I feel that all of our energy as a school/district/state/whatever has been spent looking at effective interventions. The question is no longer, "How do we get students to learn?" it is now, "How do we get students across the finish line?" Our focus is now reactive instead of proactive. I feel like the only time I get to talk about teaching as a craft is either on this blog or at lunch with a handful of my fellow English teachers. I'm not saying that teachers and admin and districts should ignore interventions; they are very important. But we are spending 90% of our time talking about our kids who are failing and what to do with them after it happens or after they don't do the work instead of talking about how we can teach in a better, more invigorating way so the kids will WANT to do the work in the first place. It's like a self-fulfilling prophecy almost. We put in all of these interventions before the kids fail and lo and behold, they fail! And then they need them. Why not take all of our energy and put it into the art and craft of effective teaching? Let's get teachers on the same board with that and see what happens.
Sorry for the rant. It's just that I miss talking about teaching. I have a good friend who is a younger, newer teacher and she comes to me for advice sometimes (Even when she doesn't need it, she just indulges me I think). I'm thankful for her because talking about teaching with her, helps my teaching, which in turn helps my students.
French Lessons by Valentin Rasputin (Link is audio. Can't find the text online but it is in many anthologies.)
This is one of my favorite short stories ever. It takes place in Russia and is about a young man who attends grade school away from home and has troubles with local kids, the family he stays with, and school. Basically, he is dirt poor and doesn't have enough to eat. Then he meets a kind teacher.
Story: 10 of 10
Top Ten list of favorite short stories.
Teachability: 10 of 10
There is everything a teacher could want in here but the best thing is the morality. Wonderful classroom discussions will unfold from this story on morality alone.