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Aren’t We Done with Waiting?

October 17, 2010
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There’s been a lot of discussion going on about education lately. I think discussing education can be wonderful if we discuss ways to improve it. I’m convinced that bashing and negativity are not the way to solve things. We must encourage a positive discussion, collaboration and sharing if we want things to be different. This negative approach just leads to nowhere. So why waste our energy going on and on about things that don’t work? Why waste our precious time on negativity and criticism that only lead to hate and resentment?
The world has changed, therefore education has changed too. Many countries are having serious problems in their education system; this is not new, it has been going on for quite a while now. We must realize that this negative attitude will only lead us to keep waiting and waiting… We don’t need Superman, Superman isn’t even real… Aren’t you fed up with waiting?
I’m no educational expert. I’m just a teacher. However just by being a teacher I can do wonders. I get to touch kids’ hearts, I get to make a difference for them and help them flourish just by loving and reaching out for them. Isn’t it powerful what teachers can do?
I strongly believe reform begins in the classroom. So, why wait for others to change or decide things, if we, educators, can start making a difference.
In my opinion what we must do is work hard to build positive learning environments for our students. We must do our best to connect with our students, get to know them and understand them, and of course, not only must we trust them, but we must also let them know we do!
Let’s invite parents too. So essential are parents in their kids’ learning process. Working with them will help us build a community which will even lead to a greater learning environment.
We also need to create meaningful learning opportunities for our students. This is the best way to foster the love for learning. We need to expand our classroom walls and connect with the world. Bringing the world into our classroom will give us the chance to collaborate, share and learn with and from other classrooms from all over the world. This is the journey we should embrace if we want our students to be able to succeed and become leaders in today’s world.
Reform can start with just one teacher doing the right thing… So, are you doing all this already? Start sharing! Tell everyone what you are doing and what works in your classroom… Other teachers, who aren’t aware, might hear your story and follow your example.
Let’s start sharing our stories and collaborating with other teachers. Good teaching can be contagious if we share our successes. So, let’s make it happen! Let’s spread the word. I’m done with waiting… aren’t you too? Let educational reform begin!

28 Comments leave one →
  1. October 17, 2010 10:25 pm

    You’re somewhat right, Greta, in that, if we could shift our outlook to be more positive, it might do a world of good. Problem is, we are being hounded relentlessly as villains here in the US, and so much creativity and leeway is gone from our profession. It’s easy to become wrapped up in the negativity that comes from the public and government as we strive to do our jobs effectively. Your optimism is appreciated, but we all know that “reform” is not that change in attitude that you write of. It’s something that, as of now, we have no say in. And that’s a problem.

    • October 17, 2010 11:31 pm

      Thanks for your comment Matt! I strongly believe in this. Education in my country is really a mess. I totally understand what you are going through. I’ve learned to stay positive no matter what for my students. Education is all about them… I believe reform is a change in attitude. If teachers really believe in this and start spreading the word, it’ll soon be more than just one teacher. It takes time and patience…but it’s absolutely possible!

    • Shelly Sanchez Terrell permalink
      October 17, 2010 11:40 pm

      Matt,

      Sorry, but I disagree with you. We go into our classrooms and see students a majority of their developing years. We have a choice about our attitudes, approaches to teaching, and the way we inspire our students. Our actions with our students impact each of them for the rest of their lives. This gives us more say than the politicians and celebrities who don’t work with the students. They may seem to be winning policy side, but we are in the trenches and what we do there has an impact. We have to go into our classrooms and choose to inspire learning the way we know how. We have to believe that we are making a difference because if we don’t teach this way then we will have a negative impact on our students. Everyday we touch the lives of our students and whether we choose to believe it or not this has a lasting impression. What a politician says negatively about us won’t impact that child we teach in the long run. What we say negatively or positively will.

      • October 18, 2010 7:16 pm

        Shelly,
        You interact with enough teachers in the US to know better than most educators in Germany what is going on. My attitude with my kids is not affected by all the political drama that surrounds education. I don’t think I need to “reform” my attitude – I believe all of my kids have something to bring to the world and that all can develop to their full potential. That’s what I’ve always believed. But, to say that our own interactions insulates us from all the other stuff is an an idea that is, frankly, not feasible.

        As a professional and steward of the wellbeing of children, it is a requirement of my work to remain positive and inspirational. Therefore, no matter the mandate, I do it because it’s part of my job, and I hope to help kids do their best. But, I’m sorry to say, no degree of positivity will undo the damage that may be done by possibly well-meaning but short-sighted politicians.

        I don’t disagree that we teachers need to work within the framework prescribed, to make it work for our kids the best we can. That’s a given. But in the real world, where things are changing quickly (and lots doesn’t seem to be working), I’m sorry to say, no amount of my attitude is going to make students adequately prepared for what lies ahead.

      • Shelly Sanchez Terrell permalink
        October 18, 2010 7:58 pm

        Matt,

        I am referring to my own experiences teaching in various low-income schools in the US. Many of the teachers there did feel the stress of the system and chose to express this with their students. That was a negative impact. You may choose to remain positive and inspirational which should be applauded because many teachers don’t remain positive and inspiring. At one point in my career I didn’t and my students called me out on it. They told me I didn’t smile as much and seemed quite moody. Our students notice our burdens and stress. They notice what we bring in the classroom and it impacts their attitude toward learning.

        I would never tell you or any other teacher to “reform” their attitude. Sorry if I gave you the impression I was insinuating this in my comment. I wasn’t. I do agree with this point, however, in your original comment, “It’s easy to become wrapped up in the negativity that comes from the public and government as we strive to do our jobs effectively.” I believe it is easy and many educators do wrap themselves up in the negativity. I also have stated in several blog forums I write for that I’m fed up with negativity towards teachers. I’ve gotten a lot of slack for it to but I stick to my guns with disagreeing with the ways teachers are being scapegoated. The point I was disagreeing with in your original comment was that we have “no say in.” As I wrote in the comment above, I do believe our actions and attitudes are our say. Your students will remember your kindness, care, and passion for your subject. They will remember how you cared enough to be the one teacher that didn’t label them as the problem student or the one who saw potential in them. They will remember when you watched them win an award or saw their games when their parents couldn’t. They will remember when you chose to speak with them about what was bothering them versus sending them straight to the principal. I know because I have many students who I have done all these things with who keep in contact with me and tell me how I made a difference in their lives. I have students who are now attending college when they couldn’t speak English or read pass the 2nd grade level in the 8th grade. I think that is a “say” in their lives. That is the point I’m disagreeing with you about because we do have a say and what we do does matter. I’ve seen other teachers do the same. I encourage you to read this post by my friend Marti Sides, where she encouraged a student, http://marsid.edublogs.org/2010/01/12/check-yes-or-no/ I could give numerous examples of how what teachers’ actions impacted their students positively. Yes, we work with limited resources and politicians and celebrities bash us but this never means we don’t have a say. In my opinion, actions speak louder than words and have a lasting impact on our students.

      • October 18, 2010 8:20 pm

        Well surely there’s no disagreeing with all those wonderful things you say. I’m not saying something will ever take away from the way I relate to kids – it’s my greatest strength in the classroom. I do the things you talk about: go to the concerts, take interests in the kids past them as students, bake for them, and provide them experiences they wouldn’t otherwise receive. And yes, they appreciate it and show it on our old class blog and in the wide-eyed wonder they display when they see me around the neighborhood.

        I believe a teacher can be a whiz in pedagogy and content and still be a horrendous teacher. That’s because they don’t know how to relate to kids. Well, with our creativity being sapped and our voices becoming muffled, there becomes less time in the classroom for us to work our magic. It’s all about churning out results, which ignores an essential ingredient of the profession: interpersonal relationships.

        At the risk of sounding arrogant, I have no doubt I have left a positive impact on many of my former students. I like to think some of them will carry my life teachings and the care I gave with them and draw upon those memories as necessary.

        But, I’ll tell you what. In the culture that’s been established, I will be judged, just like my students, on their output. I can do all the things mentioned above and in your comments, and if my students don’t make the grade, then we’re all failures. That’s how it is, and it becomes truer all the time.

      • Shelly Sanchez Terrell permalink
        October 18, 2010 8:42 pm

        Your last paragraph:

        “In the culture that’s been established, I will be judged, just like my students, on their output. I can do all the things mentioned above and in your comments, and if my students don’t make the grade, then we’re all failures. That’s how it is, and it becomes truer all the time.”

        I think you totally hit the nail here and it’s really quite sad. This was the case with the teacher from LA who committed suicide after the LA Times rated him as a teacher based on his student test scores, http://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/75878. It didn’t matter that the whole community loved him and noted him as making progress with gang members.

  2. October 17, 2010 10:51 pm

    Wow Greta! Another great post! I love your positive attitude. When I listen to you, I really do believe that anything is possible.

    Thank you for helping me believe and giving me hope!
    Aviva

    • October 17, 2010 11:33 pm

      Thanks for your kind words Aviva! I’m glad it has helped you and given you hope. I’m convinced we can do it. After all it’s all about our students. We must do it for them. Thanks again Aviva, I really appreciate your support!

  3. October 18, 2010 7:36 am

    Mixed feelings here. Yes we are the proponents of change – we teachers. I firmly believe that we can make the difference and lead one movement in edreform. We are with the children and we have so much influence on them. (Something that can’t be taken lightly.)

    Though, sometimes it is hard to stay positive with all the negativity around us from admin, politicians, communities and other teachers. Just last week I felt the need to walk away from a situation because the negativity was frustrating and I didn’t want it to infiltrate my teaching attitude.

    That’s why having a PLN and support system is so important. We help each other and keep each other motivated. I’m so glad you are part of mine!

    Have a great day, Greta!

    • October 18, 2010 7:45 pm

      Thanks Elizabeth for your comment! I agree with you. I know it’s hard to stay positive with all the negativity around us. I strongly believe every educator should build their PLN. Not only will it keep us motivated but it will also help us learn new things all the time. Learning new things is also essential. Learning new things is refreshing and it will help us recharge our batteries. As I wrote on the comment above. It takes time and patience… but it’s so rewarding! I’m glad you are part of my PLN too!

  4. October 18, 2010 10:02 am

    Greta,

    I love your positive attitude. It comes across in your writing and your tweets. I think that you are correct, “reform is a change of attitude,” but the big question is, how do we get the policy makers to change their attitudes?

    I agree with Shelly, attitude toward our students and our profession has a huge impact on how well we do our jobs. Teaching is a profession that has an endless impact. One of my favorite quotes, “A teacher effects eternity; you can never tell where his influence stops.”-Henry Adams, speaks to that.

    I understand what Matt is saying as well. It is very tough to teach in NYC now. Our chancellor and mayor don’t have a clue about what goes on in a classroom and call the shots as they send down edicts that may work in business but don’t work in schools. It is beyond frustrating to be told do do things that you know are not educationally sound for the children in your charge and then be hounded by administrators who are delivering the message from the higher ups. As Matt says, “It’s easy to become wrapped up in the negativity that comes from the public and government as we strive to do our jobs effectively.” As difficult as the situation is, it doesn’t change the committment and passion that Matt and other dedicated educators have for their students and for their profession.

    Some things have to be done and I believe that it does start with the changes that a teacher can make in him or herself. A conscious decision to work at nurturing, educating and making a positive impact on the children that he or she works with is one. Sharing a positive attitude and ideas with colleagues is another. Showcasing the best practices of the school within the school and community at large, parents, local business people, and of course, local politicians is a third. Effecting the more global reforms takes a coordinated effort of all of the stakeholders in order to make an impact on the “powers that be.” Agreed, it takes time and patience, but it has to get started. No easy task, but who ever said that being a teacher was easy.

    • October 18, 2010 8:15 pm

      Thanks so much for your comment Gail! I agree with what you said… I totally understand Matt and what’s going on in NYC. I know it’s not easy, but like you said: “who ever said that being a teacher was easy”
      I love being a teacher, I love my job and I strongly believe we can make a difference. We need to make other educators aware of this. Some people might feel they don’t have a say, but I do think we have say. Like Shelly said: “our actions and attitudes are our say” Thanks again Gail!

  5. October 18, 2010 11:03 am

    What I’ll do on my end is to gather my teacher friends and we will make a change, thank you!

    • October 18, 2010 8:19 pm

      Thanks for your comment! Let’s all work hard to make a change!

  6. October 19, 2010 9:19 pm

    Hi Greta!
    Another great post to make us think. I think the first big step to start a reform is from the teacher’s attitude which sometimes is negative towards the students. Having a positive attitude we can make a meaningful change in our students’ life. I absolutely agree with you, anything is possible when one is willing to do.

    Cheers!
    Luciana Podschun

    • October 19, 2010 9:59 pm

      Thank you for your kind words Lu! I totally agree with you, anything is possible… It’s our attitude and hard work that will help us make anything possible…Thanks for your support Lu! Love having you in my PLN!

  7. Rachel Ward permalink
    October 23, 2010 1:01 pm

    I am a student at the University of South Alabama in Mobile, Alabama. I am taking a course called EDM310 and your blog has been given to me to comment on as an assignment.

    A lot of what you discuss in your post is the approach that I want to take when I get my certification and start teaching. Positive effects from the bottom up cannot help but contribute to some amount of change. I would like to do whatever I can to help the process along.

    • October 23, 2010 10:32 pm

      Hi Rachel,
      Thanks for your checking out my blog and leaving a comment! I’m glad you are planning to take this approach when starting teaching. Maybe it’s not the easiest way but it’s definitely the most rewarding. I seriously believe that we can make a difference, of course many things have to be solved and changed, but we can’t just sit down and wait… We can do something and the more we do and share, the more we can contribute for the change. Good luck on your course! Thanks again!

  8. October 24, 2010 6:39 pm

    I am an education student at the University of South Alabama in Mobile, AL. I am currently taking EDM310 and as apart of my assignment I have to read and comment on your blog. You may also visitMy Blog to look at some of my other assignments.
    I do agree with you that having a positive attitude is a good way to bring change schools. However, I also believe that complaining about the problems and shedding negative light on some situation can also bring about change. If people only see the good then how will they know that the bad exist. It is okay to complain and rant about the problems in education as long as those complains are followed by actions and plans that can change things. I believe that people have to be both positive and negative when it comes to educational change because somewhere in the middle is a solution to a problem.

    Tierra Dinkins

    • October 24, 2010 8:46 pm

      Thank you for your comment Tierra. I agree with you that discussing problems is important. What I don’t think helps is the going on and on about problems attitude that just leads to people not being able to move forward. I’m totally against bashing and negativity. I think these two don’t encourage positive change at all. However, I do believe we need to know what works and what doesn’t work in order to make things better.
      Good luck on your course! I’ll definitely check out your blog! Thanks for sharing it!

  9. October 25, 2010 1:20 am

    Your blog sounded like a conversation that I was part of a week ago at my History Honor Society meeting. We, being our entire country need more positive teachers like yourself. You made the comment that you are not an expert but just a teacher. That’s like saying you are not a scientist just a mom. We do not need experts per say to control our classrooms. What I feel that we need are teachers who actually wake up in the morning and make the decision that they will make a positive difference in each child’s life that they have in their classrooms. Children recieve enough negativeness without us as teachers adding to the burden. I hope that your class understands that what they have in you as a teacher is not the norm in our society but should be. Good luck in the future and I hope that your b log touches every teacher and student like it did me. I am a student at the University of South Alabama and this was an assignment in my EDM310 class. I will be posting a summary later on in regards to your blog. I believe that we can change the world one child at a time, but we must realize what an honor it is to have this opportunity and not take a moment for granted.

    • October 25, 2010 10:10 pm

      Wow Shellie! Thanks so much for your words. I’m speechless! I liked what you said: “I believe we can change the world one child at a time, but we must realize what an honor it is to have this opportunity” So true! I strongly believe in that too. We are so blessed! Not only do we have the most amazing job in the world, but we also get to make a difference for our students. Thanks again! Your comment has really touched me!

  10. October 26, 2010 3:17 pm

    You know I am ready! We can each start it today in our own classrooms with our own situations. Hopefully soon we will be doing so large scale #twitacad anyone?🙂

    • October 27, 2010 12:22 am

      Thanks Kelly! I knew you’d be ready! Totally agree! Yes, we can start today!
      Let’s also work hard and keep dreaming until #twitacad becomes real! Thanks again!

  11. December 8, 2010 3:06 am

    Wow!! I enjoy what you might be doing! I want to relook at screen toaster! Informative and fascinating submit!!! maintain it up..

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