Top Five in Two Jobs: Ten Reasons I’m Thankful
On a more personal note than my usual blog posts…
If you are a remotely regular reader of this blog, you might have noticed I dropped off the radar for most of this month. It’s been three weeks since my last post, with most of that time consumed by the intense effort to keep family and work semi-organized while managing a household move. We’ll be remodeling our family home and so for now we’re in our temporary residence – and between packing and permits, finance and wi-fi, family events and dryer vents, I haven’t been able to get into a blog post for a while. (But if you really want to hear more about that instead of education, go to this blog instead).
So, amidst all the personal disorder, and against a backdrop of continual economic woes, underfunding, and divisive education reform battles, I find myself catching up with the blog on the day before Thanksgiving. Whew! What a day to try to gather my thoughts and come up with something coherent. I’m not really going to attempt anything too deep at the moment, but as a way to ease back into the blogging, I figured I’d use the occasion of Thanksgiving to focus on the positive. It’s not easy, but here goes.
I have two jobs, so I’ve decided to offer up five reasons I’m thankful in each role.
As a high school English teacher…
- I’m thankful for my students! They are the reason that I’m always glad to be at school. I teach sophomores only this year, and I’ve always loved that grade level. They’ve put the freshman year transition behind them, but they’re not quite as stressed out as juniors. It’s the perfect moment to meet kids where they’re at and help them push and stretch their minds and skills to the next level. Each day, they also push me to do a better job.
- I’m thankful for my colleagues. I work with a skilled and caring teaching faculty, a supportive administration, a highly professional classified staff, and a department full of committed and creative teachers. There’s a familial atmosphere and much appreciated humor, balanced with the ability to have open and honest discussions about areas where we disagree.
- I’m thankful for our school’s parents. They provide the foundation that allows teachers and schools to do our best work for students. Not only do they take great care of their children, but they also take care of the school and staff. Yes, there’s a financial piece here and it’s important, but I’m more touched by the personal efforts that some of them offer – the cards, small gifts, food, and volunteerism. One year I heard that the total number of volunteer hours on our campus added up to the equivalent of having eight or nine full-time assistants on campus. I also know quite well that many of our parents are just as interested, just as supportive, but simply unable to show it in the same ways.
- I’m thankful for our district and community. Though there are disagreements and areas of concern and tension, I never doubt the good intentions of all involved. Overall, there’s a commitment from the community to support schools and respect teachers.
- I’m thankful for my professional community. There are so many great minds out there – educators who are wise and generous, and contributing so much to my development and practice through journals, conferences, online forums and chats. I am a better teacher because of their openness and sharing.
In my other job, at Accomplished California Teachers…
- I’m thankful for the opportunity to know and interact with so many wonderful teachers around the state! We started this work almost four years ago – Sandy Dean, Anthony Cody, and I – with the support of Linda Darling-Hammond. We reached out to a small handful of teacher leaders we knew fairly well, and came up with a team of about a dozen to work on our first education policy report (on the topic of teacher evaluation). Since then, we’ve completed the work to produce two more reports, started up this blog, partnered with other groups, used social media and face-to-face gatherings to build up to a network that now has 253 members. Not all of those people are active, but we are growing, connecting, and building momentum to carry on the work of amplifying teacher voice and supporting teacher leaders in their efforts.
- I’m thankful for the community of the Stanford School of Education. It’s wonderful to connect or reconnect with people working on so many different aspects of education research and reform, and particularly gratifying to have both moral and practical support for ACT.
- I’m thankful for the interest of the education community. We’ve been able to attract audiences and line up some interesting guests for events, and we’ve enjoyed interacting with colleagues when presenting at state and national conferences. We’ve been received warmly by legislators and aides, and invited to engage in ongoing policy discussions. We’ve had our teacher evaluation report used in districts, cited by other organizations, and listed as a resource by various individuals, organizations, and the state department of education.
- I’m thankful to our funders, especially the Stuart Foundation, without whom we couldn’t have built this organization or this track record.
- I’m thankful to anyone and everyone who has read this blog, commented on the blog, or reached out through social media or in person – all of whom, collectively, keep me motivated and energized to carry on.
Happy Thanksgiving to all!