Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Passionate Teaching

I am very passionate about teaching (if you didn't know that already! :). There is nothing I like better than collaborating with others who share my passion. It's something I think we are losing in this test-score-driven, education-reform world we have been in for the past few years. For example, when my principal addresses parents she talks about how we educate the whole child. However, when I try to bring in a person who trains support dogs to talk to the kiddos about pet care (for free, by the way)-- I am told that is not in our objectives, so no. When I told my administration that I needed knee surgery last year the response was "bummer, get it done soon because it can't interfere with testing". This is a standardized test we give 3 months into the school year to identify potentially GT students. That apparently trumps the inability to walk without crutches and excruciating pain.

Kindergarten used to be about teaching letters and sounds as the foundation for reading. Now we have a high frequency word test that is used to decide promotion/retention (which used to be relegated to a 1st Grade promotion standard). As a matter of fact the form we are given to track our data automatically labels the student "at-risk" and puts them in the red zone if they cannot read 40 words per minute the first week of school. This is literally the form we have to use to record running records and reading levels.

My point is that is easy for even the most passionate teacher to lose their passion. My principal was giving away awards this year and complimented one of our staff members for never arguing with a task they are given-she just always does what she is told to do. Um, yeah. That is not ever going to be me. I can't keep my mouth shut when I feel like we are going the wrong direction with our policies and that my students' education is going to suffer because of it.

I wasn't going to buy any more books this summer because I already have a ridiculously high stack. However, I read about Angela Maiers book: 

I love Angela Maiers and her message. She favorited a tweet I posted recently and I actually felt giddy! :) Although the perspective is one of a high school teacher and some of the advice she gives may be too challenging for us to use in our classrooms-I do have a renewed sense of trying to inject more passion for learning into my kiddos! Luckily, many of our students are just starting out on their academic careers so they usually enter with lots of questions that will get us off-track in no time at all. I will never forget one student I had (she graduated to middle school this year)-at the meet-and-greet she found her seat sat down with her hands folded on her desk ready to learn! That's the passion I wish we could keep in our kids!


  1. It's hard to believe K kids should be expected to read 40 words per minute. Did I really read that write? Anyway, I can sense your passion from over here in Idaho. Keep it up!

    1. Yep-it makes no sense to me at all. We have to go from zero to 40 and then the goal for the end of 1st is 60. Once they are reading I think it's easier to get them to read better-it's a lot for those kids who enter day one with no knowledge of letters and sounds.

  2. I just want to shout "you're kidding me?" At about three different things you've said. But I won't...cause you know what they are:). I just think it's so sad what's happening to the primary curriculum and the expectations For those little guys.

    Grade ONEderful

    1. I agree Barbara. It just shatters their confidence so early on. They will say "I hate reading" which is definitely not my goal!