Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Let's Pause for Positivity, Shall We?

Yet again, it is my friends, or memories of former friends, who are saving me from drowning in a sea of my own complaining. Lately, this blog has been all politics, all news and b*tching all the time...but hey, it's not my fault that everyone seems to have had a secret meeting and decided to collectively turn against teachers instead of, you know, using their powers for good and actually coming up with some solutions.

I think my soapbox may be showing signs of extreme wear and tear from overuse. I mean, I have stepped up on that thing so many times in the last few weeks, that just writing this blog could be considered step aerobics. (You like how I rationalize that blogging is actually exercise? Now, please pass the cream cheese...) And around the blogosphere (still the nerdiest phrase EVER, but it is what it is) teachers and supporters of educators (oh, and people who are into common sense) are speaking out too. Even people like Bill Maher (thanks for the link C.A.T.!) are even getting in on the action.

Although many of us may be tired of speaking up, or afraid to speak up or think that our speaking up doesn't matter, I beg to differ. And now, I shall share with you an inspirational story from classroom's past.

(Plus, I think that some of us, who are in the classroom and ROCKING OUT are simply too tired to speak out after a long day of teaching and having to fight their way through the main office at the end of the day, which can be like running a gauntlet of negativity and people wanting to chat and waste time when all you want to do is grab a chocolate from the secretary's desk, check your mail and run upstairs to get ready for tomorrow, so OF COURSE you're tired. You guys could use a nice shot of positivity too. And that chocolate.)

Setting: My classroom library, on the rug.
Scene: My friends it in a circle, with stories tucked underneath their bottoms for sharing. My student teacher sits at the front of the class in my fabulous teacher chair. I sit at the back of the circle watching - and crying a little, but we'll get to that part.

Student Teacher: Remember, if you don't want to share, you can just say, "pass" and give me your work on the way back to your seat.

Nods from around the carpet. Is it any wonder I freaking love this class?

Student Teacher: Okay. Bubbles, do you want to share?

Bubbles gets up and reads her story. Everyone listens. Everyone claps. A few kids give specific compliments. My head is exploding....it is one of those days where you think to yourself, "Self, they were actually listening and now look at them. Who knew?"

Student Teacher: Fabulous. (I get everyone to use that word excessively if they spend enough time with me...it's a gift.) Um, Cutey Pie, do you want to share your work?

Now Cutey Pie is almost as shy as Mr. Shy. And that's pretty shy. He almost never shares in front of the whole group like this. It's just a matter of time before he says, "pass."

Cutey Pie: Pass.

Do I know my friends or what?
And then...

Curly: C'mon Cutey Pie, we really want to hear about your thinking!

Me: (in my head, of course) Um, WTF? Curly, TOTALLY loving you but don't push him.

And then...

Bubbles: Yeah Cutey Pie, we all think you're really smart!

Choruses of "Yeahs" and "You can do its" and head nodding spontaneously pop up around the carpet.

Am I crying?

Cutey Pie looks unsure, but decides to stand and walk to the front of the rug with his work. All of a sudden, a round of encouraging applause breaks out around the class. Cutey Pie takes his place, smiles and shares his work. Everyone listens. Everyone claps. A few kids give specific compliments. Cutey Pie hands my student teacher his work and sits down. Curly shoots him a huge smile and a thumbs up.

Yup, I am definitely crying.

SOOOOOOO my point is that all of us in the teacher community/blogosphere are here to support you if and when you decide to speak up. We will listen. We will clap. We will give specific compliments and perhaps a thumbs up.

I speak from experience.

15 comments:

Tracey... said...

YAH...I LOVE STORIES LIKE THIS!

Jim McClain said...

"but hey, it's not my fault that everyone seems to have had a secret meeting and decided to collectively turn against teachers instead of, you know, using their powers for good and actually coming up with some solutions."

You've noticed that, too? When did this start??

Suzi said...

Good post - I needed it this morning. Yesterday was one of those days when you think, "Am I really doing any good? Am I really reaching this kids?" So, thank you. Perfect reading while I sip my cup of morning joe.

Spanish to English Translation said...

I frequently find myself having to translate things from Spanish to English. This can be quite time consuming for me since although I speak some Spanish I am not fluent. I am wondering whether or not there is a good Spanish to English translation website that I can use to do this a bit more quickly and easily. I would love to have more time to do other things. The translations don't have to be perfect, they just have to be good enough that I can get the gist of what the document is saying and make an answer to any questions posed to me.

mollymaureen said...

I give you a few claps every time you jump up on that soap box. (God you must have killer legs, what with the areobics and the fabulous shoes)

hermione329 said...

I agree with Molly. I love reading these stories because it makes me feel better about my own shortcomings in the classroom. Someday we'll all get there.

christie said...

I am crying a little too! LOVE IT!

Sneaker Teacher said...

What a great story! SO cute. I can totally picture it. ;0)

Stu said...

Politics:
As long as politicians have control of public schools then school issues will be political issues. We learned that with No Child Left Behind (as well as Goals 2000 from the Clinton era, which was essentially NCLB without the steroids). It's important to speak up...and it's important that TEACHERS speak up.

It's also good for us to be reminded now and then of the reasons we chose this career. Stories such as "cutie pie's" abound. I'm an interventionist working with at risk kids every day. The gold that I have accumulated from their wisdom is worth more than anything I could have earned in another career, and it also protects me from the less-than-fabulous politicians and pundits who find it so easy to blame teachers for all the problems children have.

Story:
While working with a first grader the other day on writing a sentence in response to some reading, I mentioned to him that a word he had written needed a "silent e." He said, "Yes!" Then looked up at me with a huge grin and said, "I knew I heard a silent e in there somewhere!"

(e said...

Aaaaw. Why did you have to make me cry with that sweet story? I was totally fine before and now I am a blubbering mess.

(e

ChiTown Girl said...

Awwwwww....... :)

Beth said...

That article by Bill Maher made me laugh out loud.....A. Lot. I hope everyone reads it.

Abby said...

I just found your blog and have to say that I love it already! Thanks so much for sharing a positive teaching story; I totally teared up. =)


Abby (currently a middle school math specialist, licensed to teach elementary school, searching for a full-time MS teaching job!)

teachin' said...

I teared up a little too. Kids are why it's worth it even when things are so hard.

Alison said...

Bill Maher is FABULOUS. (I thought I was starting to use that word because of our teacher-librarian, who rocks, but maybe it's you.)

Loved your story about Cutey Pie. I wonder, if and when classroom teachers speak up, do we receive the same warm support that your students have learned to give? Except in certain regions of the blogosphere, it seems that when teachers try to defend themselves, they are shot down (figuratively). Is it because we allow teachers associations and unions to do our speaking for us?

I think you are right; most of the time we are just so busy working on what really matters to us--teaching and learning--that we leave the soapbox to others. That's why I LOVE your blog.

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