Looking over my posts from the past month I realized that this is the 30 from “#MTBoS30.”
I did it–I wrote 30 blog posts! Though not in 30 days. I missed a few days here and there. Mostly recently.
Thanks, Anne, for putting the idea out there in the interwebs, for getting me out of my non-blogging, I-don’t-have-anything-to-blog-about rut. I mean, clearly, I didn’t have anything to write about, but I didn’t let that stop me!
Like I said a few weeks ago, I’m going to keep going until the end of the school year–or at least until the end of the school year gets too overwhelming for me to blog any more. So, this isn’t the last inane post you’ll be reading from me (assuming you’re actually still reading this).
Yesterday (at the unholy hour of 7 am) I was at a meeting. The department chairs meet every other week before school to talk about school-wide issues and action items. These are kind of the big-picture things that shape the implementation of the philosophy of our school. So, not your typical “couldn’t you have said this in an email?” sort of meetings.
Yesterday’s meeting was about sustainability and how we could address issues of teachers feeling overwhelmed and stressed out. We started by listing items that seemed to come up in conversations about sustainability–or the lack thereof–and came up with a whiteboard filled with words. Many of these items, I mentioned, were endemic to being a teacher. Others were specific to our school, or at least for our “type” of school.
One item in particular that stood out for several of the teachers in the room was the idea of student-centered teaching being more challenging than a more teacher-centered style. Not that anyone was advocating that we all begin lecturing, rather they were pointing out that these types of lessons often come with increased planning, preparation and facilitation–all of which take up time and energy from our personal reserves. There was also discussion about how different disciplines (e.g. Humanities versus Science) had different challenges that made being student-centered difficult.
This is where I got really amused.
I don’t remember exactly what I said, but I do remember the gist of our science department chair’s response. And the fact that she looked at me as she said that,
It’s easier in some disciplines to be student-centered.
I let her know after the meeting how funny I found this comment. I told her that in any other school I’ve worked at (and many that I haven’t) the person saying those words would have been a math teacher. The fact that she was directing this comment to me–the math teacher!–was a sign of how different our school is from so many others. We have built a math curriculum that is student-centered pretty much at all times.
And now, since we’ve done such a good job at this, our colleagues are of the opinion that this is simply easier to accomplish this feat in mathematics. That the subject matter lends itself to student-centered learning.
I’m actually super proud of myself that I didn’t laugh out loud in the meeting.
But I’m more proud that we’ve clearly done a great job of doing what we do and doing it so well that our colleagues think it looks easy!
Today at morning meeting, during meditation (yes–we meditate at my school), the person leading meditation gave us a gratitude reflection. Apparently Fridays are gratitude meditation days–who knew? In any event, today’s prompt was to think about the teachers who we felt gratitude for and to think about them and all they did and do for us each day. I immediately (because I am super-snarky) leaned over to the teacher sitting next to me and whispered, “This is awkward.” But then I closed my eyes and participated.
At first I thought about one of my college professors. And then I tried to think back to a few of my high school teachers. And then I thought about some of my colleagues, who help me learn and grow now.
And then, thinking about who helps me learn and grow in my current teaching-life, I naturally shifted focus to the MTBoS.
So, having been prompted, and having felt grateful, I want to share my gratitude with all of you who share your classrooms with me, who give me great lesson ideas, who help me reflect on my own teaching and who push me to become a better teacher for my students simply by being your awesome selves.
I want to say, it really is great having another (excellent) math teacher in the house when you get sick and don’t have sub-appropriate lesson plans. Not that I’m convinced that my colleagues felt that a lesson involving dice was “sub-appropriate” either, but they have to trust me–it was better than trying to do what I had actually planned for Tuesday.
And because it wouldn’t be fair to tease you with that and then not deliver, here’s the goods. The link below gives you the downloadable/editable version.
Lying to the young is wrong.
Proving to them that lies are true is wrong.
that God’s in his heaven
and all’s well with the world
They know what you mean.
They are people too.
Tell them the difficulties
can’t be counted,
and let them see
what will be
these present times.
Say obstacles exist they must encounter,
The hell with it.
Who never knew
the price of happiness
will not be happy.
Forgive no error
it will repeat itself,
will not forgive in us
what we forgave.
Translated by Robin Milner-Gulland and Peter Levi (revised)
This poem hangs on the side of my bookcase in my office at school. I’d almost forgotten about it until I went to get some magnets during class today.
Every year the staff and faculty at my school put together a list of books we recommend to the graduating seniors. Our librarian curates the list. She just sent out the annual update email, inviting us to revise our lists from last year. The list is a lovely tradition and it was really fun to put together my list last year (the first time I submitted). I didn’t make many changes this year.
In case anyone’s interested, here’s my list:
The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho
Animal Dreams, Barbara Kingsolver
The Case Book of Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Eleanor & Park, Rainbow Rowell
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
Imperfect Birds, Anne Lamott
Range of Ghosts, Elizabeth Bear
The Temple of My Familiar, Alice Walker
The Things a Brother Knows, Dana Reinhardt
Water for Elephants, Sara Gruen
Watership Down, Richard Adams
The Wind-Up Girl, Paolo Bacigalupi
Ursula K. Le Guin’s Powers and EarthSea series
Also, anything by: John Green, Madeline L’Engle, Tom Robbins
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou
I’m a Stranger Here Myself, Bill Bryson
Listening Is an Act of Love (StoryCorps Project), Dave Isay
The Man Who Ate Everything, Jeffrey Steingarten
Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six Word Memoirs, Smith & Fershleiser, eds.
Writing Down the Bones, Natalie Goldberg
I also like our librarian’s “professional librarian advice”:
Don’t read any books you don’t want to unless you have to.