One Sunflower


on October 3, 2010

Excerpts from a conversation with a small group of teachers on Friday morning:

“My 2-year-old son has more skills than some of my 2nd graders. How can I hope to bring my lowest students up to 90% performance level when they are coming to school already so impacted?My best efforts won’t be enough because I’m only half of what these children need.”

“The government and state demand we be at these performance levels but they have no idea how to support these mandates and no money.  Pretty soon every school will be failing because they are yanking classroom supports – larger class sizes, less new teachers with the newest training, less research based curriculum.  What will the government do when everyone is failing the mandate?”

“Has anyone been watching NBC’s Education Nation reports?  Of course Finland has the best schools.  Their family and health care structures are sound, there is professional development for the teachers, there are 3 teachers in the classroom to support learning.  The country made education a priority and funded it.”

And yet, teachers are some of the most hopeful people on the planet! They go to work each day hoping to create better futures for children despite the overwhelming factors of poverty, poor health care, fragmented families, drug abuse, depression – do I need to go on?  While they know these factors are making the odds of their success impossible,  teachers continue to do their best to lift children up and carry them forward until they are able to slug it out for themselves.  And they will need to slug it out, because this world is getting meaner all the time, even for those children without such difficult odds.

While these teachers’ comments might not sound very hopeful, the context of this conversation demonstrates they are: these teachers were gathered around a table at 7:15 on a Friday morning to begin another year of their book study group.  The book they were looking at using for the first part of the year is Teaching Like a Champion.  This is a group of hopeful teachers who are continuing to look for better ways to do their job and succeed despite everything un-hopeful about the world they work in.

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