Reasons and Resilience.

For the month of April, I am participating in the Blog A Day Challenge for educators. All prompts are provided by Meredith Towne (@BklynMeredith), an educator from New York.

I missed yesterday, but the prompt is apt for the past two days (and the next three), so I’m writing about this: What makes you resilient? Why are you still teaching today?

I spent the past two days at an ed tech conference. I heard keynote addresses that inspired me to take time to notice more good things in my life and classroom, seek for ways to implement diversity, and my favorite: reevaluate my current “benevolent fascism” approach to teaching and classroom management. I learned about BreakoutEDU and Canva, and my head buzzed for two days about how I can reimagine my classes.

This is what makes me resilient: I learn from others. And I want to keep learning. Just when I feel I’m at my wits end, I look for something to learn, something to inspire me. Sometimes it’s a TED talk, sometimes it’s figuring out a new trick in InDesign or reading an 11-page article about the film Casablanca.

Why am I still teaching today? Two reasons: first, because I tried not teaching and it didn’t sit well. Second, because of my students. Yesterday three of my editors went to the ed tech conference with me. They looked for stories, set up interviews, took photos. Today, two of the editors spent the day at the conference. Tomorrow, I will take two students to a luncheon in which they will be recognized for winning a state-level competition. Sunday, I will take four students to Norfolk where they will compete at a different state-level journalism contest.

The kids are why I’m still teaching.

One of the keynote speakers challenged us to tell the stories of the kids who succeed, the kids who do good things. He reminded us that 95% of our students are kids who want to learn, kids who make us laugh, kids who improve. But we don’t tell their stories. We tell the stories of the kid (notice the singular) who tried our patience, who stormed out of class, who mouthed off, and sometimes we let that one kid define our day, our class, our entire year.

So I’m telling you this story: I spent yesterday and today with kids, and I’ll spend the next three days with them too. And though I’m exhausted, they’re the reason I’m willing to push through that exhaustion.

 

Writers.

My second class of the morning is a class of 21 students.

It’s a Journalistic Writing class, comprised of all four grades. And 21 students often means 21 different writing styles and habits–not the easiest of things to manage.

They are all writing feature stories right now. 21 different feature stories, from personality profiles to human interest stories to behind-the-scenes features.

Today, for almost 40 solid minutes, most of those 21 students wrote and wrote and wrote. They transcribed interviews, they rearranged quotes, they developed transitions and created leads.

While they wrote, I peeked in on their progress, since they are all required to write in Google Docs, and I held mini-conferences and left comments for them, or just spoke to them from across the room what needed to change and what I liked about their writing so far.

They made great progress today, and I am excited to read their final drafts next week.

I’m grateful that I get to teach writers. Even the students who don’t think they are writers–they proved today that they are.