525,600 Minutes

One year.  4 seasons.  12 months.  52 weeks.

When my son first helped me create this blog, I secretly hoped I could do for teaching what Julie Powell did for cooking.  Instead of replicating 524 recipes in a year, I would dutifully record 365 tidbits about life in a public school classroom.

It was a mighty undertaking.  But if Julie could master the art of French cooking, I would try to recreate the complexities of American education.


And I really did intend to blog every single night.


Blogging possibilities truly are infinite. On any given day, the average teacher works around three technological catastrophes, averts four BFF squabbles, solves for X, sums up the causes of World War II, reads three dozen critical lens essays, sends two kids to the nurse’s office and dispenses eighteen minutes of life skills advice.

Yes, I would blog every night.
If there were eight million stories in the naked city, I knew there had to be at least a few hundred in my middle school English class.

And there were.  The trouble was that living in those minutes left me with little time to write about them.

But over this year, I have found time to publish posts and pages that have been “hit”  23,483  times.

What I have found is that everything can be related to teaching.  Everything.  Kitchen gadgets, golf, car maintenance, kayaking, the New York Yankees.

It isn’t that these things are really like teaching.  It is just that when you are a teacher, you see instruction in everything around you.  You see school in summer traffic jams.  You see a lesson in the nightly news.  You envision the journey of a school year as you paddle for the shore on an August afternoon or enjoy a delicious dinner in a new neighborhood restaurant.

So to all you who have taken the time to read what I have written, I send a huge thank you.  I hope to keep up the pace I set in this first year, though as we near the finish line of another academic term, writing time becomes more and more precious.

But if Julie could whip up Julia’s boeuf bourguignon, then I should be able to keep up with my own instructional recipes!

Worry About What You Can Control

      Today, in the pre-game interview, Suzyn Waldman asked Joe Girardi if CC worries about facing Verlander.   Joe’s answer applies to teachers as well as pitchers: “CC knows that he can only worry about the things he can control.”

Testing…Composite Scores…Politics


Don’t Worry About What You Can’t Control

This is good advice for teachers,too, especially now, when so much of what is happening in education is beyond our control.  We can get worked up over the detrimental effects of widespread testing, we can lament the ways in which Danielson isn’t the objective, evidence-based evaluation it should, in theory, be, we can argue against the commercialization/politicization/vilification of teaching–and we would be justified on all counts–but we would be wasting valuable energy better spent on more important tasks: the kids!

Ultimately, what we care about, what gets us out of bed and into work each day is what happens in our classrooms.  It’s about the kids, right? It’s sharing the content you love with your students.

Forget about Andy Cuomo or Arnie Duncan, neither of whom will ever know your students.  Forget about Pearson, whose flawed testing tells us next to nothing about what we need to do to be more effective. Keep telling yourself that it’s about the kids, stupid!

Easier said than done, though.   When the policy makers say that they expect test scores to nose dive, we see kids, not numbers. We see kids who trust adults to do what is best for them. We see kids struggling with questions we haven’t been able to prepare them to answer. We see children. Every single day, we see children. Isn’t that what we should be seeing?

Then we see composite scores that will tell the world that we aren’t really so good at what we work so hard to do.

Don’t worry about what you can’t control.

I am trying very hard to take this advice to heart.