Saturday, May 2, 2015


Monday marks the beginning of Teacher Appreciation Week, May 4-8, 2015.  I love the initiative started by the Center for Teaching Quality to take back the narrative, take back the public story of education. All too often our news outlets are filled with stories of regret, of ridicule, and of shame in our public education systems.  But in this coming week, the Center for Teaching Quality is encouraging teachers to use the hashtag #TeachingIs to open the doors of our classrooms and share what it means to be a teacher today.  Rather than the conversation of education being told by those outside the classroom, it is time for teachers to share their joys, their struggles, their fears, and successes.  The story of what teaching is must be told by teachers.

My friend, fellow high school English teacher, and PASCD member, Brianna Crowley, put together this video to share the #TeachingIs initiative.

And so here is my #TeachingIs story:

Teaching is
     twenty-two voices clamoring
     for space, for a taste, for a chance
     to be heard, to lead, to learn
     in the span of eighty-five minutes,
     marked at both ends by bells
     that yell at students and teachers
     where to be and when,
     dictating how long to connect and to what.
Teaching is
     skillfully sliding, seamless
     into facilitator, coach, counselor,
     confidante, cheerleader, learner,
     disciplinarian and librarian,
     before the period brings learning
     to a close.
     But as a lover of literature,
     of well-crafted lines,
     of stories that sing from their bindings,
     a teacher hands over the pen,
     shows students how to see
     the blank, white page as more
     empowering than scary
     and education as something that
     expands and extends
     beyond the mark of a period.
Teaching is
     teasing out
     the nuance,
     teaching students to do
     the same.
     Look for the purpose,
     the bias, the audience,
     consider the meaning,
     the cost and the claim.
Teaching is
     the art of
     figuring out
     how to turn
     mandates into moments
     of meaningful mastery,
     how to advocate for collaboration,
     for cross-content connection,
     how to share the story of
     learning as more than just numbers
     shared as data and charts
     under headlines which cry for reform.
Teaching is
     being present,
     bearing witness
     to the joy and the tears,
     the laughter and fears,
     to listen and share
     the diversity of stories
     that enter our hallways
     and slip into our classrooms
     each day.
     We are more than the
     numbers and marks on a page.
     Our classrooms, a platform,
     where student stories take stage,
     helping students find voice,
     recognize power in choice,
     and encouraging resilience
     instead of silence.


Denise Krebs said...


What a helpful post this is. I love the video and explanation that you shared.

I love your TeachingIS poem. It's a beautiful, touching and heartfelt.

Thank you for sharing!


Anonymous said...

I love this post! My favorite line is : Figuring out how to turn mandates into moments of meaningful mastery.

Thank you for sharing this impactful post.

Beth Steinen said...

What a beautiful poem! My favorite lines are: education as something that
expands and extends
beyond the mark of a period. I also love: helping students find voice,
recognize power in choice,
and encouraging resilience
instead of silence.
Your words are deep and inspiring and so very true. Thank you.

Jennifer Ward said...

Thanks so much for all the great feedback!

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