Hey guys! I think you might be looking for a way to improve schools…am I right?
You should know one thing before you keep reading: this is a no-excuse, get-at-it zone for educators looking to improve their students’ scores and do it FAST…all while actually having a life!
Some quick facts for you:
- I am a happy educator who chose the field of education because of a deep love of kids and the innate knowledge that, if taught well, ALL kids can reach benchmark and beyond
- I make school life simpler. I do not believe that in order for things to be powerful in schools, they have to be drawn-out and complicated. All of the content on our site is designed around that idea. I don’t believe in talking just to talk – I believe in action.
- I am results driven – I don’t waste time on what “sounds good” – I pay attention to what LOOKS good and gets a return in the classroom
- I have worked alongside the lowest socio-economic counties in our country – and gotten stellar results
- I believe in focusing on what gets quick results – “Go where you can get an immediate win” is my motto
I’ve met thousands of educators throughout my years of working in struggling schools (more about that later) and here’s what I know as much as I know that my favorite food is Mexican and I love red shoes: IT ALL COMES DOWN TO THE QUALITY OF THE TEACHING AND THE QUALITY OF THE TEACHER’S ATTITUDE.
I am a happy and enthusiastic educator who has worked with schools with 39 kids in a class where teachers are getting it done every day and kids are learning in spite of their rough, unsupported home lives, the staff environment is really positive, the teachers are joking with each other and the kids in spite of the fact that the desks are 37 years old, people are purchasing their own paper and they haven’t had a pay increase in 3 years.
I’ve also worked with schools that have 7 (yes, you heard me correctly…7) kids in the classroom and the teacher is complaining that she doesn’t have “enough support”. (I know…) The kids are out of hand and the talk in the teacher’s lounge is stuck in the “if onlys”…”if only we had the type of kids with supportive parents”, “if only we had more materials”, “if only we had more time for collaboration”, “if only we made more money”. You catch my drift.
What’s the difference between the two? ATTITUDE? You see, here’s what I’m thinking: we have a choice every day and we need to choose to make it a good day.
After all, it’s not the kids’ fault if I had a fight with my boyfriend or I chipped my nail after a $30 manicure (ok, not really, but I wanted to make sure you were listening) or my car wouldn’t start. If I’m not feeling it, it’s up to me to change my attitude so that I can get my teaching right.
I have a little talk with myself in the car as I drive through the school parking lot and it goes a little something like this: “Jill, you’re feeling crabby today, the morning isn’t going so hot, BUT you’re a great teacher and these kids who don’t come from much deserve much more than a crabby teacher with an eye on the clock. Give yourself 15 minutes of happiness where you fake it and then you can drop the act, I promise.”
Here’s what ALWAYS happens: after 15 minutes of faking a good attitude, I no longer have to keep up the act because I AM happy – really, how can I look at these crazy wild kids we teach and not find SOMETHING that makes me laugh? It’s contagious. Try it. Your kids (and you!) deserve a good day. It’s your choice…go ‘head, have a good day…
Alright, alright, enough of the soap-box stuff…now a little about me…
Eleven Important, Semi-Important and Downright Trivial Facts About Me
Fact 1: I was a born teacher. Actually, I thought I wanted to be a doctor, but if you saw my grades, you would have realized (like my parents did early on) that I wasn’t cut out for a life of being a student…but TEACHING? I loved it from the very beginning.
Fact 2: I have an, um, interesting, driving history. I like to drive fast. Like real fast. I know every speed trap in about 17 states intimately – because I’ve been there…and been caught. The weirdest driving “thing” I got myself into was when I was pumping gas in a small town along a long, lonely interstate on my way back to the airport and I ended up in a high speed chase with the gas station owner…more to come on THAT!
Fact 3: I started off teaching pre-school and then long-term subbed in Kindergarten (there weren’t any teaching jobs when I got out of college). My first “real” teaching job was teaching Kindergarten in a neighboring district – one of my favorite things was sharing my funny kindergarten stories in the staff lounge. Pure comic relief!
Fact 4: After my second year of teaching, I never taught the same grade level twice. I liked a challenge and it was fun prepping new stuff all of the time. I even liked teaching teenagers! I mean if you want to witness soap-opera level drama, teach teenagers.
Fact 5: I once got a Letter of Commendation from the Superintendent of Schools for “introducing students to music through my guitar”. But here’s the thing, I don’t play guitar. I realized that every morning as we sang our morning song the kids and I would play air guitar and a couple of kids went home and told their parents, “Miss Jackson plays the guitar for us!” and they thought it was so wonderful that they wrote the Superintendent. I never told the Sup the truth. Somewhere there’s a file with my name on it with a Letter of Commendation for my stellar guitar playing.
Fact 6: I did some reading intervention teaching before I became an administrator. It was in this job that I realized I really loved teaching kids who struggled with reading – I look back on it and I realize that I didn’t have much of a clue about what to do, but I worked like crazy to study and prep lessons and we did see growth. Most of all, I really loved showing kids that they could do it, because they’d been trained for so long that they couldn’t. Talk about rewarding!
Fact 7: People often ask me if I miss teaching. I really don’t because I get to still teach in other people’s classrooms and still have kids recognize me in the hallways. The real excitement I get now comes from teaching the teachers of those kids and realizing that when that teacher improves his skill, it’s really helping multitudes of kids. I find that quite rewarding.
Fact 8: I think every teacher should have a life outside of school. I see teachers who are at school until 7:30 pm every night, hunched over the photo-copy machine, lamenting about how they work such long hours and I want to say, “Go home!” or “Watch a movie!”…we don’t get better the longer we stay, we get bitter. (I just made that up right now…clever, eh?)
Fact 9: I was a member of the Backstreet Boys’ crew for one night…and have the shirt to prove it! Enough said.
Fact 10: One of the highlights of my own sixth grade year was when I had to do a demonstration for my classmates as part of an assignment. I demonstrated how to make a burrito. I know what you’re thinking: genius.
Fact 11: I think it’s our responsibility as educators to act as ambassadors of our field. We need to get out of the “poor me, I’m a teacher” mentality and put our heads down, work like crazy and speak positively and hopefully about how important our jobs are and how meaningful our work is. I’m not going to lie, I’m getting really tired of hearing my hairdresser and my next door neighbor talking about how “poor teachers don’t get paid enough” – while that fact may be true in some cases, is THIS THE MESSAGE we want to lead with? It’s certainly not what I want non-educator types to be left with after a conversation with me! I want them to say “wow…teachers are lucky because they get to do what they love to do each day”.
…oh, and one more thing…just when you think you’ve made huge impact on kids, you get something like this…kids have a way of humbling us, don’t they?!?!?!