1st-4th Math Coach Constantly Searching for New Ideas
It is very difficult to find a teaching job on or near Long Island. We’ve been searching for jobs since the Spring of 2011. By we, I mean my fiancé and I. She’s also a teacher, and she does an amazing job with her Pre-K class. I always knew how caring she is, but I’ve still been amazed at how compassionate she is as an educator. She meticulously plans and puts in more effort than most educators I’ve come across. She definitely gets a lot of those qualities from her mom, who also happens to be an excellent educator.
I’m writing this post because I’m incredibly proud of my fiancé at the moment (as I always am) but she made an extremely difficult decision today. She recently rocked a phone interview with a charter school and was offered a demo/in-person interview at one of their locations. She was sent a scripted lesson, which she wasn’t thrilled about to begin with, but was working hard to make sure she did the best she could. Then, the recruiter sent another e-mail with video examples of different lessons that are done throughout their charter network. This particular network uses a different style of classroom management than she is used to. They use a series of hand signals, snaps, and voice commands to illicit certain responses from their students. It’s very authoritarian in nature. It almost reminded me of the Pavlov’s Dog Experiment. As I’m writing this, my dad (who isn’t in education) just said “those kids were like robots.” He watched one of the videos about 20 minutes ago, and is still thinking about it. This method is something that she could not come to terms with and decided not to pursue the position any further. This was a difficult decision for many different reasons. First of all, this opportunity was a good financial one. Second of all, it would be great experience to work in the city with an underserved population to try and make a difference for those who need it most. For those reasons, among others, this was a very tough decision. But, I’m incredibly proud of her for making it because she has a way of doing things that allows her to get so much out of her Pre-K kids and she just simply couldn’t come to terms with talking/working with students in the way that was presented in this particular charter school’s videos.
As I was thinking about this situation, it made me think of Justin Aion (his blog could be found here). For those of you that are familiar with him, you know how talented of an educator he is. He’s also unbelievably honest about his experience in the classroom on a daily basis (in a way that far too few teachers are). He asked a couple of questions in his blog post today that got me thinking about management in general. He was having a public, yet internal, debate about whether he should’ve been more vigilant about removing disruptive students from the beginning of the year. From what I can tell, it seems that a few of his students are really making it impossible for others to learn and they have been given ample opportunities to figure out a better way to behave and work. He set off on a bit of a journey to reinvent himself as an educator this year and the “new” Justin wants to be inclusive of everyone to make sure that they all have access to the quality education he provides for those students that are willing to be involved.
I’m at a similar crossroad with some of my 4th Graders. They have the big fish in a small pond mentality right now and are starting to check out. With a part of one week plus four full weeks left, I have 9 more periods with them before they head off to middle school. I find myself having to give them ultimatums because of some deteriorating behaviors. I don’t want to threaten taking away their recess, especially since the weather is starting to turn for the better lately. I don’t know who has answers for this question but I have found that lately, there have been a lot of difficult decisions that are being made by educators who seemingly shouldn’t have to deal with the problems they’re confronted with. I have only begun on my journey as an educator but there are certain things that I am unequivocally against and I think I’ll never change on many of those things. I didn’t know I would find all these amazing 3-Act activities and PrBL activities, but I have and I’ve become a better educator because of it. An educator’s views on a lot of things can change, but at the end of the day, we’re working with kids. Kids should NEVER be stifled and treated like Pavlov’s dogs under any circumstance. I’ve learned a lot about being a quality educator and I work towards it everyday. I’m very thankful to have my fiancé as an example of a strong-minded teacher who stands up for her beliefs. I’m inspired by teachers like Justin Aion because of his willingness to reflect honestly and share how he works through things that all teachers go through. There are countless others that I look up to both in my personal life and throughout the MTBOS people I’ve come to know. I hope that more educators take advantage of the great resources they have around them in order to push the limits of the kind of educators they can be.