A Tale of Two Back to School Nights

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Excitement and enthusiasm were in the air as teachers in my new high school in a middle class neighborhood prepared their classrooms by decorating their bulletin boards, displaying student work, and straightening desks. Welcome messages abounded, Remind.com messages were sent, and we opened our doors to meet the parents.
I have done these events for 24 years, four times a year at my former school in South Central L.A. But this year’s Back to School Night left me reflecting, and perhaps shedding a tear.
First, my new parents were fantastic. They were friendly, enthusiastic, and supportive of the new ideas I bring to the school. I knew in them I would have allies to incorporate my findings from my Fulbright exchange in Finland earlier this year. Parent after parent nodded their heads and strongly affirmed that break time was important to students, teachers, and workers in general. They were excited to hear about the summer travel programs I had prepared.
As I looked at their warm and s…

Evaluating Teachers

Below is a comment I submitted to the L.A. Times in response to their article on this new type of merit pay (read it here).

"As an educator, neither competition, threats, coercion, or merit pay will improve my teaching ability. Money doesn't keep me up at night wondering how I can sneak food to my homeless student so that his friends don't see. A bonus doesn't compel me to spend endless hours preparing lesson plans to make class informative
and meaningful for my students. There is no sum that can buy the feeling I experience when a student finally 'gets it' and it changes his/her life. For many educators, no one can hold us to a higher standard than that to which we hold ourselves. This motivation, this calling, is something to which most teachers gravitate, certainly not for the salary and the demeaning treatment we receive in society today. And for the record, I would never have dared to compare myself as a new teacher, to the many wise veterans who guided me and molded me in my early years of teaching. Experience matters in teaching, as it does in medicine, science, and countless other professions."

image from credit-blog.creditfyi.com

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