“I Am Great!”

Usually when I wake up in the morning I sit on the floor and meditate. I will chant, “I am great! I am great! I am great!” for five minutes or until I get bored. Then I go out and be great. After a while I noticed that I was losing my edge so I upped my chant to: “I am the greatest!”, which felt like more pressure but pushed me back into greatness for most of the day. One time I got experimental and chanted: “Kill the system! Kill the system!” because I am a radical revolutionary teacher and feel that innovation often follows rebellion. But on that day I ended up screaming at my third period that the world was a mean horrible place filled with loneliness and heartache, and that they should all drop out and become hobos–then I went to a bar at lunch and didn’t come back, which got me into some trouble. So I stick to my original chant now.
Two Right Feet

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Raising the Bar

It’s Christmas Eve, 2014. Today I’m not going to think about school. Instead I want to reflect on my year–the ups and downs, the magnificent achievements and dismal failures. On the magnificent achievement side I would have to count every day. Maybe I didn’t bring my A game every day, but I did bring heart and intention and compassion and high expectations! Every day I said to students: Currently you are down here, but in order for you to be successful you will need to be up here (standing on my tiptoes, raising my arms). Now jump! Jump over this bar!… And often times they would fail and perhaps if indeed I am honest with myself I should call these moments my failure. But I never dropped the bar. I just held it out of reach and barked: “Jump!…Jump!, you cur!” because sometimes you need to call children out on their failing behaviors. Looking back I can’t say that I had many kids jump over the bar–and that is probably because that when they got close to achieving their goal I would move it higher, away from them. But even if they never accomplished the ever-changing standard that I set for them, I know that my students experienced growth. They know what it feels like to fight through frustration and hopelessness to pursue an elusive, delusional dream. Merry Christmas, everyone!

Rewarding Greatness

I’m often asked: should great teachers receive bonuses? Answer: Yes! Great teachers should be rewarded for their greatness!

If I am able to inspire my students to greatness then I should be compensated for that. Just like those teachers who got stuck teaching poor kids or low achievers should be docked for not raising them up. Remember: you are teaching in a great place because you are great and you are teaching in a bad place because, well, you are probably a bad teacher. Or you have self-esteem issues.

I think we could all agree that if a policeman can single handledly lower the murder rate–he or she deserves a raise, but if the murder rate goes up on his watch or her watch he or she should be held accountable. If a doctor lowers the death rate of his or her patients he or she should be rewarded for his or her success, but of course we wouldn’t praise that doctor for killing people. So it is simple. Great teachers should be praised because they have great kids who achieve great things. And bad teachers who teach bad kids need to get better. And I guess that is where I come in because I can advise those bad teachers about how to move to a better school.