Thursday, September 27, 2007
Teaching students how to use technology is the most important skill we give our students after teaching reading. Some people have even suggested that the term literacy be changed to mean a combination of reading and technology skills.
I believe that instructional technology is this important, not because this is my job, but because I have eyes and can see how the world is changing. The world is driven by technology like never before. If you have no technology skills, you are virtually unemployable in this society. Project that into the future 10 years, or 20 years. Isn't it reasonable to assume that technology will play a more important role than today? If this is true, then are we adequately preparing our students for that future if technology is not a large part of what we teach them?
Unless the there is some sort of major catastrophe like a nuclear war, or comet impact, the old days are gone forever. What will today’s teacher do when suddenly the world is alien to them and technology becomes the teacher, their role is a facilitator, their only task is to make sure students continue to work on their computer?
Computers never tire of repeating the same material, and they can immediately move to the next topic keeping pace with the student’s needs. They don’t get an attitude after repeating the same material for the forth time, or even the hundredth time.
Have you played video games lately? Guitar Hero, and Dance Dance Revolution are examples of games that were not even dreamed of in my early days of Pong and Space Invaders. These new games teach you how to play the game as you play. When this same type of approach is applied to classroom instruction, teachers should start thinking about new employment opportunities.
Computers can accept speech input, hand writing and eye movement. Have you seen Microsoft’s new computer? Or what about the laser keyboard? How long will it be before teachers are not needed to teach computer skills? I don’t think it will be very long at all.
This might be a shocking idea to many, but what is a teacher’s salary? Let’s say an average of $35K. How much money would it cost to replace 5 out of ten teachers with computers for each of those teacher’s (who are leaving) students? How long would the equipment be usable? If you start to think like that, in terms of money, it is possible to see that it could happen. School divisions are political bodies whose main concern is the student and the bottom line. There is little loyalty, if any, for the teachers who do the daily work of instructing students. Computers don’t cause a fuss when they get replaced by a newer, cheaper model that does more.
If a teacher can’t teach the skills needed to use the tools that the world uses, and it won’t be long before the tools themselves will be able to do the teaching, will the problem and the solution come together in our lifetime? If a teacher is an effective technology user, and instructor of technology skills, this will ensure the teacher a job, at least in the short term future. If you are still not convinced, ask the factory workers who lost their jobs to robots. No one thought that could happen, but it did.
The problem is that non-native technology users avoid using new tools because they don't feel they get anything from it. It takes work to figure out the new tools, and the payoff is not that great. My argument is that these skills will keep them employable as teachers, at least for a few more years. Did I forget to mention that in my state there are technology standards for instructional personnel? Sure the standards are sketchy at best, and require the school divisions to define what the standards mean, but they are out there. They are sure to be revised soon. I mean, they are 9 years old now and many people have worked hard to define the skills teachers need, and let's not forget that the technology that the world uses has changed. A revision of the technology standards for teachers is sure to happen because the work world decides what the educational system needs.
My school system has a technology proficiency test that teachers must pass to stay employed. The test is a joke. It was a joke in 1998 and I don’t think that the test has changed at all since then. Never mind that the technology has changed. You only have to pass it once and you are set for life- until they change the rules. I don’t fault my school system for this; I blame the state for creating a set of weak guidelines.
A teacher’s goal is to teach the SOLs and anything that takes them away from this is not considered a productive use of time. The funny thing to me is that there are SOLs for technology, but because they are not tested, they are not taken seriously. The teacher’s technology test is a joke and some teachers actually brag about being computer illiterate and passing the test. And stupid me, I wonder why no one is serious about using technology. It really comes down to how well a teacher can avoid technology. Maybe if teachers thought that their livelihood was at stake they might take technology more seriously and really work at learning to use it. Perhaps the teachers who do not see the benefit of technology are just waiting for retirement. In the meantime, how many students are missing out on a quality education? What will their future be like?
Friday, September 21, 2007
So far I have discussed my change of philosophy, regarding instructional technology, like it was as simple as turning on a switch. It has been anything but easy. I have had to place personal relationships with adults after my professional responsibilities to my students. It is not like I have huge social life. I am a father of 3 young children and my prospects for adult relationships are limited. A loss of any relationship is something that I will miss.
On a personal level, I consider the people I work with to be my closest of friends. Many of them attended my wedding 11 years ago. I know their husbands, I have seen their children grow up, I know their favorite football teams, and I know about their trials and tribulations. I am afraid that my new approach to my job may impact those relationships. I hope not.
I am not trying to be mean to anyone, but I have to make a stand for what is right for the students. It has been hard so far. I have had to say things like, "No." That has always been impossible for me. I feel myself bracing everyday for the confrontation that is to come. I feel like I have a giant target painted on my shirt. This is not completely different from the past in that I have always felt like a target. The difference is now I will not try to soften the impact. I will not avoid the arrows. If someone wants to debate the role of technology in instruction and the teachers place in the equation, I will tell them what they should be doing and in such a way that is not open to interpretation.
It would be a mistake for anyone to think that I enjoy this new position I have taken. From a personal standpoint, I don’t enjoy it at all. Professionally, I believe in what I am doing, but I am angry at myself for being so blind in the past. I am afraid I will lose my friends. I want everyone to be happy with me. There are many doubts and questions that keep bouncing around my head. Who am I responsible for serving? Isn’t it the students first? If I know something is wrong, should I do it just to make others happy? Isn’t it a sin to do something you know is wrong? If hell is any hotter than the labs were this week without AC, I don’t want any part of it.
I really don’t know how it will all turn out. They say that you can’t bake your cake and eat it too. I guess that means that I can’t do what I believe in professionally, and keep all of my personal relationships intact. I have made my choice. When all else fails, my dog will still like me.
Next- The Future
Thursday, September 20, 2007
The New Path
I have recognized my failure but I decided I could not accept that I was doomed to a predetermined destiny of failure. I am not going to give up, and I will do what I believe is right for my students. I have the ability and the desire to transform not only myself but the environment that I work in. It only made sense if I looked at things differently and took the, “George Costanza Approach.” Basically, it is the opposite of whatever I have done in the past. My logic is, if everything I did in the past was a failure, then I can’t repeat what I did if I want to succeed.
The kids are the most important part of this equation, so I am going to do my best to be there for them- all of them. I worked hard on making the trickle down technique work, but the students didn’t benefit. So now I am focusing my energy on the students. I will be switching my attention from one side of the building one week to the other side the following week. When I am in the lab, teachers can watch, participate- at my direction, or get out of the way. It is certainly not the most diplomatic way to do things, but the previous way was a complete failure and I need to distance myself from that path or I risk falling into the same trap. The object here is for me to give the students the best possible technology learning experience and model what teachers should be doing.
When a class enters the lab, they become my class. They are entering my world. I believe that a positive experience in the lab is their right, not a privilege. Behavior problems before the lab are erased. Computer lab time will not be used as a tool for punishment or making up missed work. A teacher can come to the lab and become a student if that is what they wish. They can work with us as we use technology, or prepare for an upcoming lesson using technology. What I don’t want is a teacher who sits in the corner correcting Billy because he is not focused on what is going on. She is then not learning anything, not helping with instruction, and only creating a distraction for me. I am perfectly capable of handling any class on my own.
I think that I have the technology skills and teaching ability to make take this stance. I taught kindergarten for 8 years and have worked with every kind of student imaginable. I have been a computer resource specialist for almost 10 years. I have a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction. If these experiences don’t allow me to handle the most rowdy class there is and teach them something, I don’t know what will. My position is that I am not demanding any more respect from my teachers than I give to them. When I enter their classroom I try not to be a distraction. I just want the same amount of respect.
Teachers are a second on my hierarchy of concerns. That doesn’t mean that I have forgotten them or don’t care about their needs. I know what they need and I am trying to show them what they should be doing. I am demanding that they become active in the lesson planning process and I am calling them out for not participating. I can adapt on the fly to almost any instructional challenge. Teachers, however, do not have the skills, or the network permissions, to successfully pull off such a feat. Planning is optional. My theory on this is that if a teacher feels it is a waste of time, or if she has more important things to do, she is entitled to that decision. Her students will benefit from that planning time and she will at least know what is going on with everyone else. The teacher who doesn’t plan will not know what is available for her to do. The computers are not loaded with all of the software that they have had in the past. I am loading the software as I go because it takes time away from other instructional needs to do it all at once, and because it forces teachers to discuss with me what it is they plan to do in the lab.
My devotion to the students will certainly take up most of my time, but I have found that my public exposure has increased, allowing me to interact with many more teachers. Many things will still be left undone. There is simply not enough time in the day for one person to do everything. I work non stop at school, but the work is never ending. I want to do it all but I have a life outside of the building, and a family that needs me. I will remain in constant motion every hour of every day while I am at work, but that will still not be enough to do it all.
My new approach is more “in your face.” Not on purpose, but sometimes honesty is confrontational. I am no longer going to try and paint a smiley face on everything. If someone is going to talk to me using direct language, they should be prepared for the same type of response. I will question people about how they are using technology and offer my help. I will demand that there is communication about their personal technology efforts. If someone wants me to do something that they are capable of doing, they need to understand that my response will be to show them how to do it. Otherwise, I will refuse to be a part of it. If I see effort, I will match that effort, but I can not do everything for everyone. It is not possible even if that is what I wanted. I know, because I learned this the hard way.
Last past week I worked with every kindergarten, 1st grade and 2nd grade class. It was exhausting, and more fun than I had all of last year put together. I felt like I accomplished something. The kids wanted me there and I made a positive step in keeping them safe on the Internet. That is a feeling that I don’t want to lose. This week I worked with 3rd, 4th and 5th grade classes. I was every bit as tired as the week before, but it was great. I loved it, but more importantly, the students loved it.
My lessons are infused with my love of technology, SOL objectives, and fun. The experiences are kind of like controlled chaos. Noise all by itself is not bad. Sharing with peers the excitement of learning is much more meaningful to a child than an adult sharing the same information. A quiet lab full of children is indescribably creepy to me.
I have shared my new philosophy with teachers this week, and last week, and I must say people are not quite sure what is going on. I do care about all of the teachers, but my primary interest is in serving the students. I have been told that this is not going to make me popular with my staff. First of all, I would need to question if I have ever been popular, and then I would need to ask, if I was popular, why? Was it because I was the “Technology Gopher?” The person who would do anything for you if you smiled and gave him cookies? If I was popular for that reason, I don’t want that anymore.
I am not sure how everything is going to turn out. There is much more to instructional technology than what happens in the computer lab, but I have to start somewhere that I can control. Right now, I am flying by the seat of my pants. But it is a start…
Tomorrow Part4- Personal Impact
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
I have been a computer resource specialist at my elementary school for almost 10 years. I have always believed that throwing a happy face on everything makes people want to embrace technology. Being helpful and nice encourages teachers to try new technology experiences. Show them how technology makes life better, or how technology makes teaching subject matter easier, and their own desire for improvement will take over. Then there will be no stopping them. I pictured myself like some sort of cheerleader shouting out the window of a train, “Come on everybody! Jump on the technology train to Happyland!” Then the train pulls out of the station and I am the only passenger.
I have had it all wrong. Non-native technology users don't want technology. They use it because they have to, and there is little pleasure associated with the experience. These uncomfortable users want things to return to where they have been for years, books, paper, pencil, or if you are real careful, a pen. They like chalkboards, and dry erase markers are acceptable, if they have to use it, but they don't like them because they smell funny like a new car. There is nothing wrong with these tools. They serve a purpose and should be used to teach SOLs and beyond, but now there are many more tools that must be used. The difference is that our children must know how to the new tools. The future depends on it.
I have always believed the truth in the proverb, “Give a man a fish; you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish; and you have fed him for a lifetime.” It is basically what every teacher works for everyday; to provide for the student’s future and make them prepared for the world.
In effect, my past philosophy of putting a happy face on technology and doing things for people, has only served as negative re-enforcer for both me and my staff. I tried to always be helpful and upbeat about things, and they would always ask me for even the simplest of tasks. I would do what needed to be done, and they would never learn what they should have been doing on their own. So the codependent relationship would continually cycle, year after year. I would fish, and they would eat the fish.
Learning is difficult, but when the light bulb finally goes off, the eureka moment is spectacular. Our students know this, they may never say so, but they like to learn. They experience this sensation all the time because everything is new, exciting and worth discovering. Adults don't often see learning this way, because we get paid to work, not learn. Doing a job faster doesn't mean slowing down to learn a different, or possibly a better way of doing something. You must take a minute to learn to fish before you can feed yourself.
I can easily see both sides to this problem. From the teacher's perspective- Why do what someone else can do better and faster than yourself? From my old point of view- Keep people happy and they might adopt some of this new technology. But I had it all wrong, because this is a never ending cycle. The teachers don’t learn, the students don’t get better instruction, and I become more upset.
The problem is that my job is to help the students and the teachers to use technology. I concentrated on the teachers thinking the "trickle down effect," would work. My school is large and it is not possible to be with every class, every week. I concentrated on lesson plans for teachers and keeping everything running smoothly. I assisted with minor technical problems and supported the teacher’s needs. All of these are legitimate things, but behind the scenes activities. Ultimately, I found that the trickle down effect doesn’t work if people use umbrellas.
I tried to concentrate on training the teachers, but no one came to training. I tried to plan, but only a couple of grade levels would really make an effort to attend. I worked hard to come up with a program to promote and recognize the use of technology. I called it the "Technology Star Program." After a month or so I realized that it was joke to everyone, except me. I could not understand what was going on. I was working hard but nothing I did had any impact. I was on a road to nowhere, traveling at top speed. I could not grasp that you can not teach people to fish if you keep supplying them with fish.
Then it all became painfully clear to me. One day, I was in a meeting with teachers planning for technology instruction. There was some general chattering about this and that, when one teacher says something to the effect, "I am going to go back to school so I can be a CRS and sit around and do nothing all day." Of course, she was "joking," in that way when you say the truth with such emphasis that everyone has to know you couldn't possibly be serious. I think it is called sarcasm. Anyway, I knew at that moment that everything I had done to that point was for nothing. I had not helped anyone. I could have been digging ditches for all the real impact it had on instructional technology at my school using the trickle down theory. They only wanted my fish.
While I was not rocking the boat and trying to please everyone, I wasn't really making anyone happy, and whatever I did had no value to them. They only really cared if they got their ink or their password changed, and then they just wanted me to be out of the way. They would smile and agree with whatever technology talk spewed from my mouth, and then go right back to doing what they wanted. The worst part of all was that I knew I had failed the students. I was hurt and angry, but these emotions are wonderful motivators.
I had to create a new approach…
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
The SOLs and Technology
The Standards of Learning test, or SOLs, were created to address the needs of No Child Left Behind. I am not a fan. In some ways it has helped a few students. In other ways, it has created a test taking mentality among teachers and students that has probably hurt more students than anything else. It has also had a negative impact on instructional technology.
Part of my problem is that SOLs are standards based tests, which means that this is the minimum that each child is expected to know for each level tested.
My son’s SOL scores came back the other day from last year’s 3rd grade test. He did great. He had a perfect score in Social Studies and History. The others areas he missed one or two questions in each area. I was glad he did well, but I couldn’t help but think what he lost in the exchange for good SOL scores. He is in a gifted cluster class. Great- so he did not completely master all the SOLs in a gifted cluster class! There is no evidence of his knowledge advancing beyond the minimum for his grade level.
If a student’s grades are dictated by a curriculum built around standards, which are the minimum that a student should know, how can there be any evidence of exceptional work? The SOLs have helped some students by creating a more uniform curriculum, but not all of them. Material must be covered and reviewed. Test taking skills must be drilled. Where does that time come from? Extended learning activities?
At my son’s school last year, after the SOL test was over, they had movies every day and treats, but no learning. I know this because he was ecstatic over the party atmosphere and told me every day for a month leading up to the 2 week long event. They watched movies for entertainment that were somehow loosely tied to SOL standards. For example, they saw Ice Age: The Meltdown which can be associated with what SOL? A creative person might be able to make some sort of connection. Oh yes, Earth changes Science 3.8. The part that bothers me most is that this is a common practice. It happens at many other schools. When the entire curriculum is built around SOL tests and the tests are finished, what is a teacher supposed to do? Maybe I am missing something.
I am certain that the future will be created by individuals who have mastered tools that we haven't invented yet. They will need to understand how to use the tools of today first. The future will not be made by adults who memorized in third grade the slash the trash technique to test taking. This is hard for many people in education to hear because in most cases their jobs are tied to the performance of their students on these tests. They want to address SOLs and don't have time for technology. What teachers often miss is that technology can prepare the students better for the SOLs than any other way, and then take them far beyond that multiple choice fixation.
All of this leads me to why technology has suffered from the impact of SOLs. Technology is an afterthought. SOLs are what teachers are worried about. The funny thing is that there are technology SOLs, but the students are not tested on them. When SOLs first came out, students were tested in technology, and teachers worked hard to make sure students knew the material. That was quite a few years ago.
Now, there is no push to learn the new technology because that takes time away from perfecting core area SOL instruction and increasing student performance by the smallest increments. The old tools are comfortable and ready to go. There is no down time while you are figuring out how to turn it on or make it work, and best of all, technology SOLs are not tested.
But, that is just the way I see things…
Monday, September 17, 2007
This is important to me because it defines not only my job, but my beliefs about where the future will take technology and education. Interestingly, there was an international conference in Shanghai that just ended where the future of technology and education was being discussed. A bunch of very smart people are thinking about this stuff, and I find it all very exciting, even though I don't agree with all of them.
My original entry began as something short. And then it grew because I found there was more that I wanted to say. Right now the whole thing is around 3000 words, and still growing. This is much too large to put in a blog. No one would ever want to read it like that. I was told by a friend that it seemed more like a manifesto. I think that makes me sound like some kind of megalomaniac,or something. I don't write manifestos.
So I decided that I would try to make them into separate entries. This will probably make everything much larger because I will feel the need to expand to each part, but it will probably make each part more understandable, and less like the rambling of a dictator want to be. Because that is not me.
This series of entries is geared towards my thoughts on how I can better address the instructional technology needs of my students and staff. I am already pretty sure that if my staff reads this they will not all be pleased. Anyone who is in favor of No Child Left Behind, or Virginia's Stardards of Learning (SOLS), will probably not agree with me. The administration and staff of my son's school also may not like some things I say. I am not trying to be controversial, or make people that I care about upset. But I probably will, and for that, I am sorry. I am not sorry for what I think, but I am sorry that I could hurt someone in an attempt to make things better.
Update: I am glad I am not anywhere near Shanghai because there is a huge typhoon that is about to make landfall right around that area. It is bad enough to live in a hurricane area but to travel and get stuck in a third world country when a massive one is coming, that is crazy!
Tomorrow night's entry will be Part 1.
Thursday, September 13, 2007
Of course, my thoughts have been muddled by life events. Like working, eating and sleeping- the normal stuff. What is interesting is that I find myself waking up 3 nights a week at 3 am thinking about my blog. I think I saw something creepy about that time in the movie The Exorcism of Emily Rose. Sometimes, it is all I can do to keep myself from jumping out of bed just to throw down my thoughts.
I think that somehow just the process of getting my thoughts in order and putting them in writing helps me to understand myself and the direction in life I am taking. It also helps me to appreciate what what a good life I have.
School is keeping me incredibly busy so far. But in a good way. This week I have been working with all of the Kindergarten, 1st and 2nd graders sharing Internet safety. It has been great fun for me. I have the presentation down pat now. I feel like I have created a comedy routine, and each time I fine tune my delivery for maximum laughs (ah, I mean education).
My Fantasy Football league is embroiled in a rules controversy already. It started before the week 1 games were even finished. A couple of the guys pushed to vote for a rule change regarding points awarded based on yards gained. I voted against the change but now one guy is hollering for a recount or something. Once the season starts I am not comfortable making any changes. The weight of the league has shifted towards quarterbacks. I think I will be looking for an additional one to throw on my bench. We will see how the rest of the group reacts, but now I just feel like what is done is done.
On the 23rd I get to go to my first Redskin game of the season. I am pumped! Best of all, I think I have got a couple of guys who are willing to drive. I have the tickets, someone else can drive...
Sunday, September 9, 2007
Cool formation flyby. I think the lead plane is a F18 Super Hornet, bottom plane a P-51 Mustang, top F-86 Sabre Jet, and the F-22 Raptor in the back. Beautiful.
World's Fastest Truck. Jet truck of fire! I'd like to drive that baby to work just once.This was the best Blue Angel photo I was able to get. Click to see a larger picture. Sweet!
This is a picture of me in front of some kind of futuristic Terminator like vehicle of death. I don't really know what it was, so that is what I am going to call it.
I took about 200 pictures today. I took so many pictures that I killed my battery before the Blue Angels flew. Bummer!
I had a super time today. I felt like such a child. I wish I could give that feeling to someone else. It feels so good and it is just not something that happens every day. It was a great day to be alive.
Saturday, September 8, 2007
Winner - undertermined. Both showed up at the same time. Both deliveries were equally hot, or unwarm. I tried to provoke a fight between them, but they didn't bite.
The only thing that differentiated them was that the Pizza Hut guy had a better car. The Papa John's guy had to look-->
I loved the dipping strips (Pizza Hut). That was really good. I'll try to upload the video where I ask the guys to fight, but I haven't had much success with that yet.
Couldn't upload video.
Why didn't they have this when I was a kid? Now I am too big to try it out. The kids love it. It wrecks the yard, splashing water everywhere. I can't believe that there was nothing like this for me 30 years ago...
Oh well, at least I still have my Hurricane mix.
I wonder what would happen if I ordered from Papa John's and Pizza Hut and they both delivered at the same time? Would they fight?
We are going to place bets on arrival times. If we are lucky theywill rumble. That would be funny. I will need to video it if the "Pizza Wars," should begin.
Thursday, September 6, 2007
I love my friends, all of them. I love the fact that I have friends who are completely different from myself in every respect. I also love it when my friends from out of town visit. It doesn't happen that often, but when it does I want everything to be perfect.
I have to stop there because I am not perfect, I am a mess. I have fabulous wife and awesome kids, but as a group we live in the midst of chaos. We are rarely organized, normally highly spontaneous, and generally have a lot of fun in whatever we decide to do.
My friends who will be visiting also have lots of fun, but they are organized and efficient about their fun using schedules and lists. This has caused me much worry. I don't believe that there is anything wrong with the way they do things, and while my world is less than perfect, I have accepted that as my state of being. Basically, I don't want the two worlds to collide and and cause fallout.
I have literally been worried about his event for a year. Last year was the first year that our friends came down to visit for the Oceana Naval Air Show. Everyone had a great time time, but there were minor things that led me to believe that difficulties may arise in the future.
So today I check my biorhythms. Now I don't necessarily believe in them, but I do occasionally look to see what they say out of curiosity. I have only checked my biorhythms 4 times in the last 5 months. It is not a regular thing for me. I only looked because I wanted a peak in a possible future for me.
Huge mistake! I use the Free and Easy Biorhythm Calculator V2.90, they did upgrade maybe that was the problem in the calculations... My reading said everything that I fear the most;
"Today you tend to speak honestly and directly, but internal angst compels you to take a personal interest even in areas where it is unwarranted, and this may cause conflicts. Exercise, sports, physical labor, or any other activity that requires strength, determination, and initiative will bring you pleasure.
Physical state: Positive
Emotional state: Negative
Intellectual state: Negative
Intuitive state: Positive
Be careful when using tools and appliances, working with fire or electricity, or when operating machinery or transports. Accidents or injuries may occur on the job.
Extreme sensitivity and emotional instability may affect everything, from work to personal relationships. You may be hard to understand. Don't let your emotions carry you away. Try to concentrate.
The intellectual minimum is a period of diminished mental activity in which thought and memory are impaired (usually men are more strongly affected). This is not a good time to negotiate, sign contracts, make important decisions, or implement new ideas. During this time it is better to do simple mechanical tasks."
So, to sum up, on Saturday I am going to be stupid, should not be around anything electrical or mechanical, I will be extremely sensitive, and cause conflicts with my mouth. Those of you who know me are probably thing, "So what will be different about Saturday from every other day of the week?" Well basically, I want to be a good host and not my normal jerky type self. My biorhythms say I am doomed.
If I know what the future holds, can I change the future that I am heading to? If these will be my failings on Saturday, can I, now that I know what my failings will be, rise above all of them and be a better person? Is this a temporal paradox? I have never understood time travel but have given it quite a bit of thought. If time travel is possible, can I just fast forward to a happy ending?
Maybe I should check my Horoscope...
Monday, September 3, 2007
Tomorrow begins a new school year. The halls will be crowded with little faces. Most kids will be happy to be there. Some will be frightened, some lost, but every student is there to get the best they can from their teachers and their school.
Parents will bring their kids to school and try to capture the events on cameras and video equipment. Some kids will cry, and most parents will try to be brave as they send their most precious possesions off to grow up.
I know every year my wife and I shed tears as we send our oldest off to a new year. This year Savannah will begin Kindergarten and I doubt that I will be able to hold back the tears in front of her. For every beginning, something most come to an end. It doesn't come as fast as you think that it might. It sneaks up on you slowly, taking a little away when you aren't looking. That first day of school seems like a much bigger hunk than all the other small pieces that slip by without a second thought. And it really hurts like something is being ripped from you. Before I had children of my own, I never understood that. Now, every parent that comes in looking more afraid than any of the children, has my deepest sympathies.
I have always thought that teaching is great because it allows you to be better than before. Not many jobs are so forgiving. I always try to forget the things that didn't work and the people who who made things difficult and begin the new year with high expectations for myself.
I want to make this year the best, not for myself, but for the students I serve. I don't get better pay, or more time off for being a better teacher, but a sense of peace for knowing that there is nothing more I can give. I'll never be rich, but that's ok. I am not good with money anyway. I have never had a lot of practice with money, but I have enough to secure a happy life for my family. That is all that matters to me.
They say that teaching is a way to touch the future. That is very corny, but also very true. Some days you work so hard you can't sit up at the end of the day and you wonder why you are doing that to yourself. No one would know if you just phoned it in. But the kids know. They can absolutely tell when you don't believe in what you are doing. The problem is that you don't see the impact of what you have done in a child's life until much later. There are few feelings better than when an adult comes up to you and tells you that when he was in Kindergarten he thought you were always fun and the coolest teacher in the world. It almost makes you forget how old it makes you feel.
I don't know what this year will bring but I am looking forward to it. I am going to work hard to get past my morning of tears for my own children, and make sure that the rest of the day is devoted to making all of my students and teachers happy. I probably won't succeed with everyone, but it won't be because I didn't try. I will be exhausted and I will probably wonder why I killed myself running around in circles. Then Wednesday will roll around and I will see all those happy faces for day two, and I will remember.