Thursday, April 27, 2017

A former student writes - with Thank You

Some 49 years ago, teachers had a lot more latitude than is permitted today. Now administrators call teachers "Professionals" but treat them more like young children. Here is a note I just received from one of "my kids" I began teaching in fall of 1968 in grade 7.
I recently retired and during my career I became a story teller. I used stories to create emotion in listeners as a leadership tool. I had lots of stories about being raised in a small town and about lessons from my parents. I was also known for being a lifelong learner. I took classes every year I worked (picked up three masters degrees along the way).

When asked about my quest for learning, I shared a story about my seventh grade teacher. After having been taught by nuns for six years, a young teacher moved into this small town and lit a fire in me. He cared about all of us and taught me how to learn through his passion for mathematics. Using a high school math text, he challenged our ability to absorb new topics. The mathematical concepts served me well though high school and college. I wasn't really challenged again until college. Your gift for teaching became the basis for my BS and MS in Engineering which provided a path to leadership at Avista. I pointed to your math and teaching skills as the platform for all of my professional success.

I was very blessed to have you as my teacher at a pivotal time in my life. In case I never told you before, thank you for caring about me and for your guidance.

In that remote town, I fantasized about how great it could be to teach in a larger setting with all the support one might receive from administration. Well that is exactly what it was a fantasy. Today there are many intrusions from upper decision-makers that hinder teachers from being more effective and make the teaching job more difficult. I with the help of other teachers could create an enormous list.

If it had not been for the fabulous time I had teaching initially, I would have dumped this teaching gig long ago. It is extremely difficult to find a math teaching job in Western Washington in which suitable instructional materials are available for use. Way too many districts are using the Danielson Evaluation model because it is one-size fits-all, while being largely useless to math teachers. Some places are moving to "Standards based grading" what a waste of energy. The focus should be on great instruction not grading. Leadership today is defective it resembles "bullying" not "cooperative guidance". PLCs, Professional Learning Communities are now a cover for more top-down edicts and indoctrination.

I am flying to Albuquerque today to interview tomorrow for a School Year 2017-18 math position at Ramah Middle/High School in Ramah, NM. The school is grades 6-12 with 195 students, 80% American Indian, 10% Anglo, 10% Hispanic. I've heard good things about the principal ... Hopefully Ramah is not required by the district to use "no books EngageNY" the latest round of instructional lunacy, so popular in the Olympia, WA area.

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