Saturday, January 5, 2013
Everyone Needs a Teaching BFF!
I realized the other day that, for the sake of my sanity I need my teaching BFF. I was talking about my classroom woes to a good friend, who is not a teacher, but is generally a nice and empathetic person. In the middle of my story she looked at me and said, “Well, you know, if you are just firm with kids they will respect you and you can avoid this all together.” I wanted to respond by saying, “Shut the front door and let me grab a pencil! You have single handedley revolutionized education in America. All we need to do is be firm and all our problems will be solved. Why didn’t we think of that?!? Let me inform the US Secretary of Education that we have found a solution!! Everyone will be so grateful” It seems like everyone has an opinion about what should be going on in American classrooms, even though most of them have not been in classrooms since they were in school. They have this illusion that teachers work from 8:30 - 3:30 (with lots of breaks in between), enjoy a plethora of paid vacations, and if teachers just worked harder or did something (were more firm, less firm, more fun, more serious, more flexible, etc. you get my drift) that everything would be peachy.
This is why all teachers need a teaching BFF! My teaching BFF is a fellow teacher who understands what it is like to be in a classroom day in and day out. She knows what it feels like to not be able to go to the bathroom until the kids have P.E., to have a child puke on your shoes, or why doing a cute “craftivity” to send home for the holidays can push you over the edge. After all you build a certain camaraderie when you sit through 6 hour trainings sessions that involve 250 Powerpoint slides.... with all the slides in 12 point font....15 bullet points per slide...and the presenter simply reads the slides to you. A good teaching BFF is someone who you can bounce ideas off of, who gets just as excited about new children’s literature and school supplies as you do, who can laugh with you about the funny things your students say, who will celebrate even the smallest successes with you, who will delight in the poem written by a student who had previously refused to pick up a pencil, and most of all understands what it is like to go home each night, but never really leave your job behind.
Trina is my teaching BFF (she also happens to be my real life BFF). We talk endlessly about teaching and learning. We talk about our successes and failures in the classroom. She is a primary teacher and I am an intermediate teacher and we talk about how ideas and curriculum span across grade levels. We talk about how things look in the primary grades and how they look in the intermediate grades. We read about the newest trends in education and jump on board some and roll our eyes at others. We remind each other of how the education pendulum swings back and forth and that new ideas in education are like busses, if one does not work for you another will be along in a few minutes. We have had each other’s children in our classes. We argue about who deserves more remediation support, but agree we both need lots more than we are getting. We develop lessons and units that span across grade levels. Both of us are better teachers because of all of this. We also both remember how alone we have felt in our career before we found each other. Both of us have had other teaching BFF, but none that clicked quite like we do. So we decided to start a blog and share the ideas we have grown together and share how we are making it work (and mostly loving teaching) despite the real life challenges we face each day!
Stay tuned for our next blog about integrating Common Core math vocabulary in grades 1 - 6!