This Is Why I Have Cut Back on My Work Hours

This, exactly:

It’s time to stop the teacher guilt, indeed. It’s time to stop putting my life on hold until the next break. It’s time to stop feeling obligated to put in all those extra hours because that’s what teachers do.

We have a choice.

For me, it’s time to start limiting my work hours to 40 per week. It’s time to start realizing that I am still an effective teacher when I do this. It’s time to start prioritizing my family and my physical and mental health over my job.

I still love teaching, and I find that I have even more energy to put into it when I’m not exhausted from working so many hours. My working conditions are my students’ learning conditions. My students deserve a teacher with a balanced life who’s happy to be in the classroom every day.



Project Based Learning: What if we didn’t start with a question?

“…models are merely models that should not be followed as a recipe without deep thought.” YES!

The Construction Zone

Note: This post was originally called: Project Based Learning: Don’t Start with a Question. However, through an excellent discussion below with Drew Perkins, I have changed the title to: Project Based Learning: What if we didn’t start with a question? See the comments for the rationale.

 End with a Question through Tinkering-Based Learning

Do you have to start project-based learning (PBL) with a question?

(Oh, wait a second! Am I starting this post with a question?)

This is something many people ask. I understand why this is so. Often teachers who are learning about Project Based Learning are encouraged to help students to develop a ‘driving question’ to guide their project. The Buck Institute, for one, suggests that PBL ‘is organized around an open-ended Driving Question’.

Tinkering-Based Learning (TBL)

Tinkering Awesome graphic: Page by Giulia Forsythe – @grantpotter Tinkering, Learning & The Adjacent Possible

I am going to suggest…

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Get Ready for the Great Teacher Exodus

“autonomy, mastery and purpose are what motivate 21st century workers”
Interesting and highly relevant point! I am fortunate enough to have these things in my current teaching job, but I don’t know how long I’d last without them.

Public Education Today

My column appeared in the Austin American-Statesman on Tuesday, September 16. Here’s the link, but since it’s behind the paywall, I’m pasting it below.

Stevenson: Get ready for the great teacher exodus

By Sara Stevenson – Special to the American-Statesman

If teachers are the most important school factor in student achievement, how do our current policies and national conversation help us to grow and retain better teachers? Tenured Stanford University professor Eric Hanushek wants us to fire “bad teachers,” but we should worry more about keeping the good ones. This year my public middle school lost a wave of talent.

To those, such as Wendy Kopp of Teach For America, who believe that experience doesn’t matter, why are our new teachers cautioned, before Back to School Night, not to tell the parents they’re a first-year teacher? Studies cited in Dana Goldstein’s “The Teacher Wars” show that first-year teachers underperform experienced…

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Dear Common Core English Standards: Can we talk?

Yes! My job is to educate all the children in my classroom, with their diverse interests and future plans. I know they won’t all pursue careers in science, yet I try to get them to like and appreciate science, hoping that at the very least they’ll keep this in mind when they become adult citizens and voters. Reading and writing are meaningful creative outlets as well as ways to connect to the world and to other people — especially in our increasingly digital world. While close reading and literary analysis can help a reader make those connections, they don’t have to be the end goal.

Daniel Katz, Ph.D.

Back in 1993, when I had barely been teaching in my own high school English classroom for a month, I had an epiphany.  I looked around my classroom of ninth graders and realized, consciously, that they were not all going to become high school English teachers.  As epiphanies go, I admit that does not sound exceptional, but it was actually foundational for the rest of my career in education.  The reason for this was that I simultaneously realized that I was teaching English because of the lifelong qualitative relationship that I had with reading and writing in English.  My father probably read “Oscar the Otter” to me every night for a month when I was four.  As a young reader, I often wondered if I would ever have a friend as cool as Encyclopedia Brown’s sidekick, Sally Kimball.  Later, I was positive that I found a lifelong friend in Charles…

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Can Harry Potter Change the World?

Of course! It already has, according to this wonderful opinion piece in The New York Times. It shows respect for millennials as readers and as thinking citizens of the world. It shows respect for Harry Potter as literature and as a social movement.

So I have one question:

Why, when considering whether Harry Potter should “be introduced to official school curriculum,” would the professor quoted in the article say “I will leave that to political philosophers,” when we really should leave it to professional educators, i.e. to teachers?

Why leave educational decisions to the Cornelius Fudges and Dolores Umbridges of the world? Remus Lupin wasn’t a policymaker or a Ministry puppet. Remus Lupin was a TEACHER. He knew what he was doing and provided a quality education for all his students, setting up not only Harry but also Neville for success. Does a political philosopher know how to do that?

I didn’t think so.