Teach to the Core

I have been published!  This summer the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) published my article in their journal “Educational Leadership”.  Enjoy!

I was fortunate enough to work for Expeditionary Learning when it was partnering with Outward Bound.  I met the author of the book “Leaders of Their Own Learning”, Ron Berger, during that time.  When I first got there, Ron was still a classroom teacher and had written a book about how to get students to take pride in the work they make public “An Ethic of Excellence”.  Expeditionary Learning felt Ron could affect more people in a leadership role and asked him to leave the classroom.  I spoke to Ron during that time and he, as many of us, was really missing his students and questioning his decision.

Presently I am teaching Assessment in Education at the university level.  When I began teaching this course No Child Left Behind had teachers teaching to their crazy tests.  I am hopeful for the Common Core State Standards and know that Ron Berger’s new book will only enhance the learning young people can celebrate.  This is a very detailed explanation about how teachers can take over assessment and share that with their students.

An educator friend of my from Argentina suggested I read this book about helping young people find their ‘element’ and helping young people ask the right questions to get the education they deserve in order to develop their gifts.

Malala Yousafzai was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 2013 for taking ‘a bullet’, actually, many bullets for the education of girls.  Al Gore received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 for his activism concerning a cleaner environment.  One of Gore’s six drivers of global change is to ensure girls are educated and gain political and economic power.  Gore’s premise is that men and women must safeguard women’s reproductive rights.  If we do not place education at the forefront for global improvement, there will never be enough advocates for a better world for women and a cleaner environment.  Bottom line, if girls and women are not empowered (with efforts of men and women in power, from the bottom up and the top down) there is no chance for Mother Earth, either.

Malala Yousafzai was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 2013 for taking ‘a bullet’, actually, many bullets for the education of girls.  Al Gore received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 for his activism concerning a cleaner environment.  One of Gore’s six drivers of global change is to ensure girls are educated and gain political and economic power.  Gore’s premise is that men and women must safeguard women’s reproductive rights.  If we do not place education at the forefront for global improvement, there will never be enough advocates for a better world for women and a cleaner environment.  Bottom line, if girls and women are not empowered (with efforts of men and women in power, from the bottom up and the top down) there is no chance for Mother Earth, either.

Who Remembers Me?

Last night I took Thelma, my dog, for a walk.  It was too hot during the day.  It was a Sunday so there’s a different crowd on Sundays.  The Spanish saying is that you rest after lunch (traditionally the largest meal and a good time for a siesta) and walk off your dinner.  Sundays I see more families walking off their dinner.

Down the street a ways I saw a young teenage couple laughing and flirting with each other.  They both, probably, left home telling their families they were going for a walk which I don’t hear much in the United States.

As they approached me I was wondering whether to greet them in English or Spanish.  There are thousands of people who cross the border (legally) each day and I want them to come back and visit and enjoy Nogales.  I sometimes feel if I greet visitors in English, it might make them uncomfortable…silly thought.

These young people looked energetic and enthusiastic so I greeted them in English.  The young man stopped in the middle of the crosswalk, burst out a huge teethy smile and said, “Hello teacher.”  I was honored by his greeting.

Unfortunately, I did not remember him.  I was doing observations at a high school during the year, maybe that’s where he knew me from.  I talk to young people who work summers in the Job Corps.  My office is attached to the alternative high school and I had attended the community college graduation, maybe it was at one of those places.  I also used to teach English as a Second Language to adults.  Maybe I was his parents’ teacher and they pointed my out to him.  

It really didn’t matter where he knew me, I was just honored that he addressed me with that historic, global reverence to teachers.  Teachers are second to parents throughout the world.  A young person only needs one great teacher to become the incredible person she or he was placed on this earth to be…only one.

In the United States and especially the last 13 years of No Child (or teacher) Left Behind (joyful), people with no background in education (State & National lawmakers in Congress and local school boards) were making business ventures with young people’s lives.  Fortunately we are not world educational leaders and no other country followed our lead.

Throughout the world, educators control the education process and they do quite well.  The U.S. claims to offer free and public education to all and some countries do not.  Notwithstanding, if educators in the U.S. could be in charge of the educational system, I am sure we could outshine any country and the “teachers” in the U.S. would be revered as life-changers, again.

One of the greatest things about U.S. public schools is that our teachers mold and support young people as creative, thinking individuals, not as widgets as politicians and businesses would like.  Hooray to you teachers, my respect and my admiration go to you.  Thank you for your hard work, your hope and your optimism because every day you get up believing you will change lives…and you do.  I hope you experience the joy of hearing, “Hello Teacher.” when you least expect it.

As teachers we must create classrooms that model creativity, learning and peace. Teaching is not easy, but public school education is a vital venue that models democracy in action, even if some parents expound something different at home.  As a country, the United States models democracy in action and our public school system must be stronger than the enemy…and yes, there are enemies of democracy.

When good teachers feel they must leave, what once was a noble profession, because politicians and big businesses in the United States are treating students and teachers like widgets.

This group asks teachers to ‘steal’ their material.  If you began teaching to Common Core Standards when it came out in 2010, or your state and/or district decided to jump on after the train left the station and your students will be assessed on them next school year, this site has some useable resources to make your trek easier.  Enjoy!

Less we forget how many children, especially girls, around the world do not have the opportunity to even learn to read.  This is today.

This video and interview transcript tells of 13 year old girls who rebel against the status quo.  They ask girls to pull together, not compete with each other.  They have a lot of strong convictions about the role of girls and women, at 13.