Monday, November 15, 2010

Up the Down Staircase

I had the pleasure of attending the PCHS Drama Club's production of "Up the Down Staircase" this past weekend. Even though I was involved in Drama Club in high school and whole-heartedly support our wonderful Drama Club, it has never worked out for me to come see one of their productions. While I know that all of the ones I missed were equally fantastic, I am glad I had the opportunity to see this one. Not only did the students do an amazing job, but the message of the play is so relevant for many of the teachers in this building, myself included. We work in a profession full of contradictions and interruptions and expectations that stand in the way of what we really want to be doing, something the play illustrates very well with the endless paperwork and announcements being heaped on the new teacher.

I know that most jobs are like this, but most jobs don't require the level of passion and belief in the cause that it takes to be a good teacher. I think about professions like those in the medical field, firefighters, police officers, and a few others that I am sure I am missing, and I know they are in the same boat as teachers. Ours is a job where if you don't believe in what you are doing, you will never stay afloat. As I said, this isn't true of all professions. Most jobs that I can think of don't require a passion and a belief to do them well. Sure, if you don't like your job, you are going to be pretty miserable, but it isn't an essential ingredient to doing the job.

The play shows how important this belief is in the world of the teacher. Miss Barrett is full of hope and optimism when she awaits the arrival of her students on the first day of the year, but soon she gets bogged down with the realities of paperwork, announcements, shifting schedules, students dropping out, students not doing homework, students seeming to care very little about what she is trying to teach them, and soon she finds herself wondering if what she is doing even matters. I can relate to this. I think most teachers can relate to this. It is difficult to put time and energy into something when you don't get much feedback to show it has even mattered. It always seems to come back to that question, "Does what I do even matter?"

Luckily for Miss Barrett, she has a great mentor point out to her that just because the students aren't jumping up and down to read the Odyssey, doesn't mean that she isn't making a difference for them. She instructs Miss Barrett to listen to what the students are really saying in their comments to her. It is then that Miss Barrett realizes that the measure of a teacher's work, the way we can tell that what we do really matters, is not in the homework or the quizzes or the test scores but in the personal connections we make and the impact that we can have on a young person's life.

I thank the cast and crew of the PCHS Drama Club for putting on this wonderful production. If nothing else, it was a great opportunity for me to be reminded of what is really important about my job.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Share the Good News

Most of the talk going on about education today is negative. Pundits, politicians, talk show hosts, and just about anyone else they put in front of a camera is more than willing to point out every problem that currently exists in education. This general atmosphere of pessimism has started to make it difficult for students and teachers to see the positive in what we do. Here is a wall I have created for students, teachers, parents, and community members to post good things that are happening at PCHS.

Teachers- Post about students who are achieving great things in your class or even non-academic things that make you proud of your students.

Students- Post about what you have learned here or about a teacher who has made an impact on your life.

Parents- Post about positive interactions you or your child have had with school personel.

Community Members- Post about ways you have seen our students contributing to the community.

These are just suggestions to get you started. Feel free to write about anything the world should know about what we are doing here.