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Try Not to Be THAT Teacher

Last Friday and Saturday, I had two amazing professional development experiences. On Friday, I was able to visit a nearby high school and see three different reading teachers in action. On Saturday, I was part of a panel of dedicated teachers that are committed to changing the narrative about teachers and teaching within their schools. I'm thankful for these PD opportunities--especially for the opportunity to visit others' classrooms. I am nowhere near as courageous as they are to allow complete strangers to observe my practice. 

Saturday's presentation by teacher consultants for the Eastern Michigan Writing Project made me think about the two teachers I sat next to on Friday's PD. They don't teach in my district, but I know people like them and even I have been them at times. I heard about their contract (no raises in seven years), large staff turnover (they felt the principal could have done more to protect them), and what they would like for our next meeting (more money). 

Saturday was starkly different. I heard about teachers that are effecting change--real change--because they are beyond complaints.  One is fighting to implement teams within his school, another is trying to build a positive culture within her newly formed senior building, yet another is helping colleagues see that reading IS a social justice and equity issue, and a very dear friend is working to help districts see that there are quality parent professional organizations, like NCTE, that teachers should be a part of. 

With that said, Saturday's workshop reminded me not to be that teacher. We all know them. It's the teacher that focuses on the negative, even when they're surrounded by amazing pedagogy and learning opportunities. After all, if we can't behave professionally, how can we expect our students to? And if we aren't willing to be a part of the solution, like those EMWP folk, then what are we?


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