Friday, August 29, 2014

Signs of the Times


            I saw this verse posted on the desk of one of our teachers earlier this week while I was acting as a temporary substitute in her classroom. I smiled and thought, “How true!” It takes patience, listening, discipline, and instruction--of “Biblical” proportions--to be a teacher in the 21st Century.
Listening, teaching, discipline, and patience--all of these elements are part of the daily routine of teachers. Teachers do teach, delivering instruction and content to our students. If we didn’t do that, we would get fired. And we get better every year at teaching because we develop our craft, intentionally growing and learning and expanding our repertoire of teaching strategies. But we do so much more. We love, even when not loved in return. We correct, we mold, we shape, we forgive, we get forgiveness, and we persist and we hope, even when it seems all hope is gone. That’s a tall order, but it is what we do every day.
We call this school. There are many ideas in our nation about what constitutes a school, and we can learn much from those various ideas. MOOCs, online learning, and other various forms of internet based content delivery systems are now available to us and our students. We at MHS attempt to learn and grow and become all that we can become to better serve our students. Right now our students can watch lectures from the greatest professors in the world with a few clicks and a good wifi connection. They can watch a million “how to” videos on any subject matter imaginable. Truly, the collective intellectual wisdom of the ages is available to whoever has time to look it up. We utilize this technology, as well as many other technologies, to greater serve our students. But they are tools. It is the quality human interaction, the mind-to-mind sharpening, the face-to-face challenge and encouragement, the voice-to voice exchange that truly creates a school.
Mountainburg High School has a great group of teachers. I am honored to serve them, to serve with them, and to stand alongside them. I am honored my own children attend this school because I know that as we grow and adapt new technologies, and as those technologies will some day become obsolete, we will still have caring people who love kids in a place called school.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Note on Desk

I subbed for a teacher today and saw this on her desk. It is very appropriate to our line of work.

Friday, August 22, 2014

New Paint, New Year

It’s a new year. We have new paint on the walls and the benches. We have new air units on the roofs and a few new teachers in the classrooms. We have renewed hopes, renewed goals, and a renewed sense of the desire to accomplish and make a difference. Right now is the time when all feels right, all the kids are behaving (more or less), and all is going like it should.

I love this time of year. I do go home tired every night, ready to fall asleep at 8:00. I do feel the pressure of making sure all is running smoothly. Every teacher feels this tiredness and this pressure the first week. But even with this, I love the feeling of optimism that comes with the first of the year. So far, all of the students (except one or two) are still on their best behavior. Every student has a clean slate, a second chance, a possibility of doing better. Every teacher has new strategies, renewed energy, and an up to date gradebook. The whole school looks to the day, and the next, with fresh eyes and fresh expectations.

What if we could maintain this all year? What if we could, even in November or even in April when PARCC testing consumes us, have this feeling that great things were about to happen? What if we could still have the mindset that positive things are on the way? I understand that Pollyanna expectations never did a thing, but positive expectations always have. My commitment to you, and more importantly to our students, is this--a positive attitude. I will not be blinded, nor do I desire to be duped, but I do desire to have high hopes, a positive outlook, and an optimistic leadership in spite of the negative that will pop up, in spite of the difficulties that will come, in spite of the setbacks that will cross our paths.

Join me, and let every day be a “New Paint” kind of day.