Back in April 2015, Love, Teach wrote a blog post that has been widely circulated, What I Wish I Could Tell Them About Teaching in a Title I School, and it is solidly one of those I wish I had written.
My district is in flux now, and I don’t know what exactly is going to happen next. I am learning that in times of chaos babies do, indeed, get thrown out with the bath water. (Forgive me, Sharon.) I’m resigned to whatever happens as long as I can keep teaching. I have invested in myself on behalf of my students, and I want to keep a positive net balance.
So when I move ahead, sideways, or upwards, what will I bring with me?
- A robust classroom library I’ve spent years curating and refining.
- A process of planning instruction that meets the needs of the students with forethought and deep reflection, in the moment, and processed over time
- Binders full of lessons, units of study, scope/sequence curriculum maps
- Technology skills galore
- Ability to connect with students and parents
- A love of working with teams of teachers to collaborate
- A strong mentoring background to help new teachers
- Deep devotion to teaching writing and helping students find their paths
- Strong and innate desire to support the administration and colleagues
- A supportive PLN across the country, and world
- A sense of humor
And I’m also taking and knowing everything Love, Teach wrote, too.
As well as cups full of pencils.
I belonged in my building when I belonged: there is no gauzy film of nostalgia over my years in my first teaching job: it was and continues to be hard. Now, perhaps I don’t belong or am included. And that’s okay. I’m not going through the growing pains many newcomers experience in a tough school such as mine. When I was a new mother, I didn’t want the advice from older women, I just wanted them to tell me I was doing a great job.
And even though the difficulties and challenges, however, have shifted, the students still need the same from me: someone who knows them and cares about them and likes them enough to set high expectations grounded with deep empathy.
How do I know I’m helping? When a student asks me three tough questions about police violence and #BLM for her passion project. When a student is having a bad day and then brings me a flower the next day because I was kind. When I tell a student that dangerous behavior is first my problem, and he says, “too bad for you,” and then I tell him, well, now you know, so it’s your responsibility now….he got it. It’s not all on my shoulders, and that’s heaven: when colleagues I know and trust share the support and love for our students, I know we’re doing it right.
I still have a lot to learn, as do we all.
By contrast, when we’re reminded that the more we know, the more there is to learn, experience opens our minds to the fact that there are multiple ways to approach the same decision or task—even those that start to feel monotonous over time.
Consider views that do not align your own:
As Porter has found in her research, it’s an important realization: Higher levels of intellectual humility are associated with a greater willingness to consider views that don’t align with our own. People who have higher intellectual humility also perform better in school and at work. When added experience is accompanied by awareness that we have more to learn, we are more apt to see that the world keeps on changing—and that we’ll have to change along with it to thrive.