Education has become an extremely challenging profession. Expectations from the state and federal governments seem more and more unrealistic and unobtainable. Limitations set on educators can lead to a sense of hopelessness and despair.
I’ve seen teachers jump from district to district because they fail to realize the challenges facing us are coming from sources outside of the district. Unfortunately, they fault the local school district for the challenges, not realizing it’s coming from outside sources.
In any case, regardless of how challenging our profession has become, we are still charged with educating children. Regardless of whether we agree with expectations placed on us from the federal and state governments, we still must produce students who are career and college ready. I’ve thought about this challenge many times in my career and wondered, “How do we get past the obstacles set before us in order to help our students?”
It takes an enormous amount of grit, passion, and determination to make it in this 21st Century world of education.
Educators must have the grit to see obstacles, find creative ways to get around the obstacle and continue to make a difference in the lives of our children. We have to accept when we’re knocked down by new rules, regulations, and limitations, and then get up and find a way to overcome the obstacle. We cannot get knocked down by regulations and then give up, throw in the towel, and say it’s just too complicated or too hard or too unrealistic for our students to achieve the goals set by others.
Having passion helps with grit. If your passion is to see each and every one of your students succeed, you’ll find the grit to get it done. Passion will drive you to dig deep and make it happen, no matter what. Passion drives you to think creatively and identify innovative ways to meet new expectations in education.
Determination goes hand-in-hand with grit. When you are determined to succeed, you do whatever it takes to achieve your goal. If you are determined that every student in your classroom will read on grade level, you will learn how to differentiate your lessons in order to reach all students. You will push past the thought to want to continue teaching the way you have always taught… in order to better meet the needs of your students.
Educators, find your true passion and determine to work with a high level of grit to ensure learning for all of your students…no matter what.
We are one week away from the month of May. Each year at this time we comment on how fast the school year has flown by. There are many lessons in this statement, but for this blog, I’ll focus on an illness that can be dangerous for your teachers and students… spring fever. This time of year can be a true challenge. The sun is out. Students and teachers are thinking about the upcoming summer months. Although summer is a great time to rejuvenate from the year and prepare for the next school year, we can’t quit teaching until the very last day of school. Read below for some tips on how to combat spring fever.
Spring fever has several symptoms. The teacher with spring fever exhibits the following symptoms:
Have you seen any of these types of patients at your school? It’s very difficult to cure someone who already has spring fever; however, there are ways for school leaders to prevent their teachers from getting spring fever.
How do you ensure learning continues until the very end of the school year?
Testing is Over… Now What?
Last week, Texas schools began the testing season… testing 4th and 7th Writing, 5th and 8th Math and Reading, English I and English II. With the exception of the Writing assessments, all other tests given last week are considered “SSI” (Student Success Initiative). In the state of Texas, SSI grades and subjects are those assessments that students must pass in order to be promoted to the next grade level. Needless to say, these areas become very important on a campus. Regardless of our opinions of high-stakes tests, our students must pass in order to continue to the next grade… and in high school, they must pass in order to graduate; therefore, we tend to organize classes and small groups based on student levels. The first round of testing is over… now what?
TEACH. Remember, we do not teach to a test, we teach for learning. Just because the test is over doesn’t mean teaching and learning come to a screeching halt. Continue small groups and make sure you continue to focus on all students (from the struggling student to the gifted student). All students must continue to grow.
The best thing you can do for your teaching staff and students is to remain constant with your expectation that learning occurs during this time. There is roughly a month and a half left of school. We are robbing our students of an education if we stop teaching now.
What do you do on your campus or in your classroom to ensure learning continues after state testing has concluded?
Springtime in Texas means state testing time. Next week will be the first round of state tests for many of our students. It’s this time of year that central administrators, campus administrators, students, and parents become a little anxious. Stress levels are at an all-time high. As leaders, we must remain calm as role models of how to handle this stressful time. Below are a few tips on how to create a calm and confident environment.
It sounds simple, but it really works. When you find yourself getting a little overwhelmed, take a few deep breaths. Remember that there is nothing more you can do at this point. If there are areas in planning where you think you could have better prepared your students, write them down in your 2018-2019 folder. For the students who will test next week, there is nothing more you can do. Believe that you have done everything you knew to do and pray for the best.
Flip the Switch
When I taught 3rd grade for the first time, I pumped my students up by telling them state testing time was the best time ever. This is the time of year that you get to show the state how very smart you are. You get to show them all that you know. I treated it like a game day. We’ve had practice after practice. You know the game plan… now it’s time to play the game!
I was excited about it and in return, they were excited about it.
Cheer Them On
Most of the schools I’ve worked in have put signs up in the hallways to cheer the testers on. You can also ask your primary grade students to write letters to the upper elementary students. This is a great way to involve the younger students and to teach them how to motivate others.
To all campus administrators, teachers, parents and students… HAPPY TESTING!
Paula Patterson is a Superintendent of Schools who shares practical points on leadership.