Saturday, July 2, 2011

Virtual Conference on Core Values: I betcha think this post is about you

Well you're wrong. This post is not about you. It's not about my school. It's not about my students. When Riley asked, "What is at the center of your classroom?" I had a simple response—me. Me me me me me. Me. This post is about me.

I'm not ashamed to admit it. I have needs.

I need to feel competent.

I need to feel like I'm getting better.

I need to feel respected.

Most of all, I need to feel like I matter.

I'm not good at my job every minute of every day. I'm solidly mediocre most of the time and downright terrible more often than I'd like. However, every so often I am precisely what a student needs. At that exact moment, at that exact place, with that exact student, there's nobody in the world that should be there but me. I peer over a shoulder and ask the perfect question to get a student unstuck. I hear a response and we perform an experiment that suddenly connects a month of disparate facts.

I crack a joke at my own expense and the two boys who were going to fight, instead laugh at me and we spend the next few minutes playing the dozens.

I sit with a student long after the bell has rung while she tells me about her mother being deported. She is scared, but not for her mom. She's scared because she doesn't think she can be a good enough mother for her little brothers and sisters.

Am I really the perfect person for that moment? I don't know. What I do know is I believe it and that belief is what pushes me.

And that's where the Ed Reformers miss the point. Maybe a computer can teach the Periodic Table better than I can. Maybe a scripted curriculum will fill the holes in my astronomy unit. But they're telling me that anyone can turn on the computer and anyone can read the script. They're telling me that I don't matter. Most of the time, they're right. Most of the time, you could switch me out for anyone and not much would change. But for brief intersections of time and space, I matter more than all the youtube videos and core standards in the world. My classroom is about me. When it stops being about me, they'll need to find someone else to push the Play button.

Read more at the Conference Center.


  1. Wow. Putting the human back in education.

    I have a teacher friend who says the best thing you can do is love your students. Because love isn't like, and it doesn't depend on whether you're acting out today or not. You don't earn love, love depends on the lover not the loved.

  2. You are absolutely right. And you (or I in my classroom) have to be there through the thick and thin so that those splices in time can happen, so the moment when a student needs us, we're there. Here here

  3. @John - Thanks for that. Nicely said.

    @Jen Also, thanks. And you need to start filling out that empty math blog of yours. If you're profile is right you're totally local to me and we should hang sometime. EdCamp maybe or whatever. If you're on Twitter, say hi. I'm @jybuell

  4. I think it's so important that relationships are not left out of education. The more we turn education into video and individualized instruction the more we will nurture self-centered, narcissistic people. Those intersections of time not only show students that someone cares about them but that there are other people with feelings and agency who affect their lives and with whom it is beneficial to learn to interact.

  5. Hahahahahaha. I love this post. Love it.

    The only point with which I would argue is the assertion that ed reformers as a whole are pushing for "Teaching for/as Dummies." Some of them are, certainly, but that's a long, old, Skinnerian dialetic. In fact, one of the few places in which I have found value in the reform movement is the assertion--backed up by evidence-- is that our teachers should be thoroughly prepared, commandos of content and pedagogy, and constantly evolving their practice.

  6. ...and that should be "that our teachers," not "is that our teachers." Shh. I don't teach English. Who told you that?

  7. Great post.

    I appreciate the irony in saying it's about you when all along, it's about them - with you. This reminded me of a youtube video I watched recently Being in the world. If you can't spare the 2 minutes, fast forward to after the 1st minute and you'll see what I mean.

    And here's the other irony, I consider you an Ed Reformer. ;)


  8. @Dina You, of course, are right. I meant a very narrow definition of Ed Reformers but I'm taking poetic blog license. And not to pressure you or anything, but I posted early 100% because I was worried about being intimidated by how awesome your post would be.

  9. SNORT. You're kidding me, right? This is truly a mutual admiration society...

  10. Thank you jybuell. I'm so excited to be reading you. Love it, love your blog, and yep loving you through the ether for all your enthusiasm and encouragement.