Friday, September 6, 2013

Epic. Hard. Radical. No Sleep.

     Friday nights are usually reserved for non-school related relaxation at my house.  At the end of a week, I need rejuvenation, and so I ignore my stack of work and do something mindless.  This Friday night, however, was different.  CBS aired its new documentary, TEACH, and I was riveted to my seat.  Yes, I was thinking about work.  A lot.  But it was all the rejuvenation I needed.

     TEACH documents the lives of four teachers throughout a school year.  If you missed it, find it and watch it immediately!  I've never seen a truer portrayal of what it is to be a teacher.  

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Some of my favorite moments:

1. Matt.  Period.  He was wonderful, and I wish he had been my 4th period teacher.

2. Joel's humorous "yo mama" joke approach to teaching thesis statements.  How awesome is that?!  Using it Monday.

3. This quote from Lindsay: "There's not a kid out there that doesn't want to be successful."

4. And this one from Matt, after a student noted that she didn't like reading:  "I get you.  But is this important for you?  Yes.  Yeira, I care about you too much to let you not give me your best, do you understand?"  I'm not sure I've ever articulated it like that for my kids-- that I push them out of love-- but I sure as heck will now.

5. Lindsay's administrator, Shawn, collaborating with her to create 360° Math, a system with boards around the room on which students work problems, while the teacher stands in the center and observes, providing support.  My colleagues and I are already planning for a 360° learning room.  

6. Joel's team-style t-shirts and "Eye of the Tiger" to pump his kids up for the AP Exam.

7. Watching these "celebrity" teachers experience the same frustrations and self-doubt that I sometimes find crippling.  In our talks tonight while we were watching, a colleague of mine said that she had realized that when we stopped feeling that doubt, it would be then that we needed to worry.  She's right.  It's the very fact that we question ourselves, and strive to always improve, that makes us good teachers.

8. Seeing many of them reaching out to colleagues for support.  I wouldn't have lasted a year in this business without my fantastic group of teacher-friends.  Remember this post?  Just a few days ago, I came across a challenging situation in my room.  Within hours, I had lots of new strategies from my girls.  We are all better together.

9. When asked to describe their year, Joel's students' responses: "Epic." "Hard." "Radical." "No sleep."  Obviously, they were talking about AP high school classes, but- best summary of teaching I've heard yet.

As the host, Queen Latifah said

Why take on such a tough job when the odds feel stacked against you? Teachers have lives of their own, families of their own, dreams of their own- but every day they show up, dig a little deeper, and do whatever it takes.

TEACH was exactly the pick-me-up I needed after a few weeks of Year Five under my belt.  I'm excited to dive into lesson planning with a whole new spark tomorrow!
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