This is a photograph of me and my brother. The younger, cuter one is me. I’m quickly approaching my 20th year as an educator. It’s amazing to consider how fast two decades have passed as I’ve journeyed through different states, districts, and levels as a coach, a teacher, and an administrator. So much has changed, and yet, in many ways, so much has stayed basically the same. I know that’s both good and bad, depending on how you look at it. Regardless, here are 5 key things I’m thinking about as I head into the 2013 portion of this 2012-13 school year.
1. We trust our children with educators every single day of the school year, so let’s start acting like it. If teachers are the villains so many people make them out to be, then why are we so willing to hand our children over to them?
2. What students need to know and be able to do isn’t complicated; however, the students are. Spending time renaming and repackaging the same old stuff isn’t going to make a difference, nor will increasing how much we assess understanding. Knowing our students, and responding to them, will make all the difference.
3. You get what you pay for. Running a family budget isn’t the same as running a school district budget. Stop saying governmental agencies such as public schools need to tighten their belts in the same way families do, unless you’re ready as a family to provide the exact same thing as those agencies provide for the good of the whole – and that would be all of the whole.
4. Education doesn’t need fixing – we do. It’s not popular to say how broken we are as a society (not that the other things mentioned here are very popular either); however, until we face this with honesty, accept individual responsibility, and work on ourselves (not others) to be more understanding, loving, and supportive, then we’ll continue to be lost.
5. Young people grow up. We don’t grow up because our parents and educators and other adults in our lives do something magical to us. No, we just grow up. Nurturing is what is needed, not some sort of over the top reaction to every single thing that happens. Discipline is what is needed, not harsher ways of punishing or excluding students from school. Respect is what is needed, not as something that is earned, but something that is given willingly and freely.
Of course I can do better. Of course we can do better. I just hope we stop spending time on that which won’t really make a difference. I just hope we start spending time on that which really will make a difference. I believe. I wouldn’t still be here if I didn’t.