Here are some reasons I don’t have time to cook dinner, do my laundry, or write a column about you, Cathie Black.
- I spend two nights a week attending classes towards my second master’s degree in Teaching Students with Disabilities. A master’s degree is required of all New York City teachers.
- Each night, I bring home student work in order to read it, smile because of it, and decide what my students needs are. This is how education happens. (Not just by looking at test scores, by the way.)
- I’m constantly reading books about how I can improve my practice. Ones I refer back to frequently are Punished by Rewards, Beyond Discipline, The Explosive Child, and The Power of Their Ideas. Have you read these? Do you know who wrote them?
- I spend time thinking of ways to differentiate projects for students within my units of study. Which means I spend time doing these projects on my own to show them examples. Much time is spent cutting, drawing, and coloring at home. Have you planned a unit of study?
- I’m writing a Behavior Intervention Plan and questioning how I can meet the needs of some of my students when they need more than I can give. Have you worked with a challenging student? Have you tried all you could and still felt like you were failing?
- I’m writing IEP’s and again questioning whether a community school can meet the needs of all students. Do you know about the Special Education Reforms, Cathie Black? What are your thoughts on them?
- I serve on a grant called Transition to Teaching that is about how we can keep teachers teaching for many years. What are your ideas about retaining teachers? Is retention important when you’re firing professionals based on test scores and closing schools left and right?
- I maintain a classroom blog to keep parents engaged and connected to what’s going on in school. How many classrooms in action have you visited?
- And beyond … I look on Craigslist for classroom furniture. I Lysol and vacuum my classroom. I visit my students from last year. I advocate for their needs as well.
I don’t know that I can trust someone to run our schools who has not shared these experiences or has little to no idea of what takes place in the trenches. Perhaps it isn’t neccessary for a manager to have held the same positions as those she manages. But before you fire teachers based on high-stakes test scores, before you attack unions, before you close more public schools, and before you make decisions that will affect the most vulnerable of New York City students, please consider the experience of hard-working teachers, an experience that may be difficult to appreciate secondhand.
About our First Person series:
First Person is where Chalkbeat features personal essays by educators, students, parents, and others trying to improve public education. Read our submission guidelines here.