I’m in Denver for an educators’ event called “Raise Your Hand,” and it’s made me realize how valuable it is for educators from all over the country to get together, share ideas and inspire each other.
I’ve been teaching for 22 years, and I am still very passionate about my work, and events like I experienced today are one of the reasons for that passion. Just when I start to think that I may be able to see boredom on the horizon, I go to a conference or a workshop or some form of professional development, and I find a boost of inspiration that makes me realize I could never be bored by my job.
A bored teacher has bored students, so a good teacher will fight hard against monotony and boredom. Don’t get me wrong…I’ve never actually been bored; however, when a person does that same thing year after year, it’s easy to imagine being bored. I just make sure it never gets beyond my imagination.
So here are some of my favorite quotes from the day’s events. I’ll add who said them when I can, but I could only write so fast…
**”Student centered, teacher led change” was my favorite quote of the day. By far. Those two elements–together–are the key to any meaningful changes in education. Too often, education reformers miss one or both aspects of the quote: they’re not focused on what’s truly in the best interests of kids (although, I’ll admit that they may think they are) and more often than that, they’re not letting teachers make the changes. Or they’re making teachers make changes that teachers know aren’t in the best interests of kids.
**”Always ask, ‘Is it good for students?'” This one is self-explanatory, and I dream of a world when anyone involved in education always asks themselves that.
**”Proceed until apprehended,” by Dennis Van Roekel, was another favorite. This one really resonates with me and is somewhat self explanatory, so I’ll leave it at that.
**We need to “shift good will into good policy,” Dr. Melissa Harris Perry, of whom I am a long time fan. There are too many good intentions in education that do not translate into good educational policies.
**It’s OK to make mistakes…teachers also need room for some mistakes,” also by Harris Perry. I fear teachers are no longer in a position to make mistakes: the culture is too combative now. That’s unfortunate, because some of the best teaching I’ve done and still do came out of mistakes and the resulting lessons.
**”Reasonable men adapt to the world around them; unreasonable men make the world adapt to them. The world is changed by unreasonable men.” Dennis Van Roekel said this, but he was quoting Edwin Louis Cole (although, I have heard it attributed to George Bernard Shaw). Van Roekel went on to say that “It’s time to be unreasonable.”
**”I raised a child who questions authority…which means she questions me,” said Harris Perry. Isn’t that the truth? We need to remember this when we are frustrated with our students (or our own children).
**”What teachers do is make us ready to go on without them.” Dr. Harris Perry said this about her mentor, Maya Angelou, who died in May. I hope that’s a goal of every teacher (and parent); I hope that people are seeing the future adults in our current kids and getting them ready to no longer need us.
As I said, I’m not bored with my job…however, now I am more inspired than usual. This is something that I think my students can feel. It’s something we all feel, don’t we? We can feel others’ passion and excitement–and it’s contagious.