Saturday, August 31, 2013

All Aboard!

It really is often like this...
We are starting a new year and I need to remember my true calling and my true Captain. I can't stop reading this sonnet and applying it to the school year, especially the public school year. I haven't been excited AT ALL about this coming year, perhaps because last year was my best ever, but this poem inspires me in a way that nothing has so far, not even the aisles of The Container Store or the techniques in Teach Like a Champion or having a spanking-clean and ready room:

The Call of the Disciples 
by sonnet master Malcolm Guite

He calls us all to step aboard his ship.
Take the adventure on this morning's wing,
Raise sail with him, launch out into the deep,
Whatever storms or floods are threatening.
If faith gives way to doubt, or love to fear,
Then, as on Galilee, we'll rouse the Lord,
For he is always with us and will hear,
And make our peace with his creative Word,
Who made us, loved us, formed us and has set
All his beloved lovers in an ark;
Borne upwards by his Spirit, we will float
Above the rising waves, the falling dark,
As fellow pilgrims, driven toward that haven,
Where all will be redeemed, fulfilled forgiven.

(In search of more curricular inspiration, I will be watching Stand and Deliver sometime this three-day weekend before the ship sets sail on Tuesday....)

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Teach me HOW to, Dougie....and I'm just wild about Harry

THE FIRST DAYS OF SCHOOL: For many years I have believed Harry Wong was the only one who really knew how to write so that teachers would become better at what they do. He knew without good management skills, good teaching was near impossible. When he said to NOT do a fun activity to lead the year, it was water in my face--a shock. Really? Wouldn't that make kids excited about school? But he explains himself and he is right. I have read this book sixteen (16) (XVI) times and it's probably time for me to do so again. Wong always reminds the reader of how respectable our profession is, how indispensable, how wonderful. He makes me proud of what I have chosen to do, and he helps me do it better.

At first I thought that was it. This was the one really great useful book for teachers. Oh sure, there were lots of little inspirational ones, or little helpy ones that usually didn't apply to my content or whatever. But then our site decided to delve school-wide into:

TEACH LIKE A CHAMPION: Doug Lemov succinctly explains the best techniques that the best teachers use, and he shares how to implement them.  He cares about EVIDENCE, not trends, upon PROOF, not intuition. I kind of laugh when I hear some of our staff members say, "This is all stuff I do already," because, tee hee, "No it isn't. You do SOME of the stuff, and some of the stuff you do, you do in the way that he says not to do." Not gonna lie--I thought I was a pretty good teacher until I read this book. I have a long way to go and lots of room to improve, and Lemov's eminently useful book is going to get me farther in my journey to be an awesome teacher than I could have dreamed. I also bought the field guide to accompany the book but can't speak to that since I haven't cracked it open yet. Lemov makes me eager to see how much I can grow.