I walked into the classroom of one of my beginning teachers and noticed a ‘teacher wishlist’ on her board. Some additions were obvious; it was December and supplies of tissues, dry erase markers, and hand sanitizer were running dangerously low (teacher wish lists are another story for another day..). However, at the top of her list, underlined, starred, and written in all caps in a different color, was the following: STUDENTS WHO WILL TRY THEIR BEST.
She got it. She knew that, for a teacher, really what makes our lives more enjoyable and what we want most is students who give their all, who work when the work is hard and who work to make the world around them be the best it can be. Her wishlist was perfect for her classroom.
But it got me thinking. What would be on Education in Arizona’s wishlist? I decided to take the approach of my sister: each of my nieces and nephews is receiving one thing they want, one thing they need, one thing to wear, and one thing to read.
Now this could very easily turn into a laundry list, but I can only choose one thing. Without a doubt, our classrooms want class sizes to be back down to manageable levels. Mike Vargas wrote a great piece- “Stack Em Deep, Teach Em Cheap”– that really gets to the heart of the matter. The more students we have, the more unable we are to create and build meaningful relationships.
It’s a no-brainer. We need our schools fully funded. It’s 2020 in just over 2 weeks. A teacher 20% salary increase by 2020 was a great media sound bite in 2018, but what do we do in 2021 when buildings are falling apart and classified positions are never filled? There were five demands when we stood up for students in April of 2018; one of them was “Return school funding to 2008 levels.” We’ve got a lot of work still ahead of us.
Metaphorically wear, in this case, a new set of initials: NBCT. National Board Certification was the best thing I could have ever done for my teaching and for my students. This year, Arizona is 15th in the nation with 81 new National Board Certified Teachers. National Board Certification “professionaliz[es] the profession,” in the words of Dr. Kathy Wiebke.
If you could persuade a teacher in the state to read one book, what would it be? For me, it would have to be Cornelius Minor’s We Got This.: Equity, Access, and the Quest to Be Who Our Students Need Us to Be. It’s so imperative that all educators take the time to truly and authentically listen to our students and their needs as we move towards equitable educational practices. Cornelius will be one of the keynote speakers at the Fifteenth Annual Teacher Leadership Institute: Bringing Voice to Students through Teacher Leadership. You can register here.
So, what did I miss? What do you disagree with? What should Arizona’s classrooms want, need, wear, or read?