Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Sacraments

The Sacraments of Education exist for three reasons:
  1. To bring teachers to an understanding of THE TRUTH.
  2. To ensure that teachers do not stray from THE WAY.
  3. To allow teachers to grow in THE METHOD.

By learning The Sacraments of Education, we might come to fully appreciate the extent to which our lives as teachers are blessed. By celebrating these sacraments, these methods of grace, we will loose our selfishness and come to understand that we are indebted to those who allow us to teach.


To begin the process, teachers are baptized in what is traditionally called Student Teaching. This Sacrament of THE TRUTH immerses the young teacher into the classroom experience. The student teacher shares in the grace experienced by the master teacher, and the students quickly cleanse the young teacher of his idealism.


For a teacher to be confirmed, he must be living in a state of grace with his administrators. Confirmation is known as Contract Renewed. Confirmation is viewed as a gift, and only should be given to those who have clearly developed their teaching identity. No longer is the teacher viewed as an infant, and now is accepted into the family of educators.


The Eucharist, known as Tenure, is the Most Blessed Sacrament. Tenure falls under the Sacrament of THE TRUTH. The celebrant receives the greatest gift of all--freedom. Tenure grants to the teacher eternal safety. The resulting joy which Tenure provides, provides the teacher with success in performing his duties of sacrifice. Tenure strengthens the soul of a teacher.

Anointing the Sick

In this sacraments of THE METHOD, teachers meet in teams called Data Teams, and seek to perform miracles on the sick test scores. Teachers who wish to effectively heal student test scores must be a person of great faith. The method of healing must be specially blessed with SRBI.


The first Sacrament of THE WAY, Reconciliation serves the purpose of bringing back into rightness a Baptized teacher. Should test scores continue to lag, it has become evident that the teacher lacked faith and finds himself in need of spiritual healing. The administration participates in the Reconciliation through a method known as Professional Assistance. Teachers must come humbly and contritely confess to their inadequacies. The process of Professional Assistance is a form of pennance.


The second of the Sacraments of THE WAY, Matrimony is often called Professional Growth. The teacher makes a commitment to the school by developing a purpose and a mission. A bond is formed between the teacher and the school community, thus strengthening both. The sacrament of Professional Growth confers grace upon the teacher as he seeks a more perfect career.

Holy Orders

Not for all, this Sacrament of THE TRUTH, carries a great weight of sacrifice. It is known as the Administrator's Certificate. Given by the high priests of education, State Departments of Education, Adminstrator becomes the model of a perfect educator whom teachers should follow. By reaching this holy place, the Administrator now can confer the other Sacraments on his followers.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Things I believe

I believe...
that in a country built on the backs of immigrants, we should support the basic premise of The Dream Act.
that anyone who supported the removal of Natalie Munroe for protesting lazy behavior by her students should also support the removal of any Wisconsin teacher who called in "sick" in order to protest.
that Waiting for Superman shows that well-run charter schools can work, but that if a poorly run charter exists, it should be closed.
that failing schools with major behavior issues will only succeed when they are allowed to remove disruptive students.
that before those schools start removing disruptive students, they should first create a school culture that most students want to be a part of.
that there are bad teachers.
that there are bad students.
that there are bad parents.
that we should generalize about any of the three groups unless the evidence exists.
that the endless collection of data and meetings typically has little value unless a structured and aligned curriculum already exists.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Time to Reconsider

The recent uproar over teacher-blogger, Natalie Munroe, has me questioning whether or not to continue writing a blog under my real name.
I started blogging early in 2005 as my teaching career was just emerging, and when the wild west of teacher blogging was uncharted. I had my own bump in the road, a lesson I hope I learned from. At the top of my blog, I write that there is nothing that has brought me more happiness than teaching--at least as of now. And, I still believe that, despite the many depressing days over the past few years. But when I am in a classroom, I feel at home. When my students behave and succeed, I feel useful.
My blog has helped me work through my own daily grind--everything from the annoyances to the debatable to the inspirational. Perhaps it is naive to believe in the goodness of people to view the body of work as opposed to the moments they find unpalatable. But honest discourse about public education, and private education, has to be unfiltered, raw, and truthful.
Over the past few years, teachers have increasingly become a punching bag for society's ills. Failing students are now the result of poor teachers, without even a thought concerning the student's or parent's responsibility. Though President Obama is quick to admonish the parents, he is quicker to admonish the teacher.
I've read the articles and the comments about Ms. Munroe. I've read about teachers protesting budgets in certain states by calling in sick. Maybe its time that teachers bring to light the realities of many classrooms, and how we feel after a day of abuse trying to build a new generation of leaders.
People are quick to say that Ms. Munroe, or any teacher who complains about unruly or lazy students, should not be in the profession. Sometimes that is true, but my guess is that most teachers who vent, do so out of a great need to impact a generation that is often unwilling to hear them, and quick to villify them.
There is nothing more that I want to see come from my days in the classroom than studetns finding success. That is why when a child chooses to act out or refuses to buy in, my heart breaks.
I'd like to keep writing about my daily grind, keep exploring my profession through writing. Maybe that is naive as well.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Student Teacher

She's going to be good. Here are Mr. McNamar's rules to becoming a great teacher:
1. You don't know sh**. You sat in your liberal, progressive, education classes taught by professors with a great deal of white guilt. You came to your student teaching experience thinking that public education has failed greatly because it isn't culturally sensitive. Then you saw reality. You sit next to a student and offer your help. He tells you he doesn't care. You assign homework, but 3 students complete it. And the great part, you graduated from high school four years ago, and you are already talking about "this" generation of students.

2. Ask questions. It's related to rule number one. The key to becoming a great teacher is to ask your cooperating teacher a lot of questions. And then, ask someone else. Your cooperating teacher might be wrong--unless you have Mr. McNamar as your cooperiting teacher.

3. Go to bed early. My favorite quote of the day from a conversation between my student teacher and her friend, also a student teacher. "What time did you go to bed last night?" "Nine." "I know, seriously. I used to stay up late and drink." Just give in now. Your new bed time is 9pm.

4. Be willing to fail. I don't check my student teacher's lesson plans. I'm afraid I might influence her to do something only because I would do it. She needs to learn what works for her.

5. Participate. I'm making my student teacher play in the Staff vs. Senior basketball game. She's a bit nervous. When you are a good teacher, kids crave your attention. One way to show students that you are human is to participate in events they will show up at. Go to games. Chaperone dances. Be visible.

6. Don't take it personally. The students are testing you. If you are weak, they will circle around you, chant wildly, and then cannibalize you.

Certainly there are more. What would you add?

By the way, I need a nick-name for my student teacher. I dont' want to call her by her real name, and Ms. McNamar is already taken. But, I imagine I will be referencing her over the next few months, so she needs a name.

Sunday, February 13, 2011


Frederick Buechner has a lot to say about faces, and today I was listening. He writes, "Faces, like everything else, can be looked at and not seen....Every now and again, however, you come across faces that are too much for you...."
How many faces do I remember from the many students who have sat in my classroom or walked through the halls? What effect have those faces had on me? How many histories, how many personalities have I known?
Sometimes, it seems much easier to look past those faces, to not see them for the stories they tell. And yet, there are a number of faces I cannot forget, both hauntingly so and wistfully so.
People would like to reduce our profession to series of data points and student ID numbers. But we don't deal with numbers, we deal with faces and stories from the human family. When that incomprehensible variable turn into a control, only then will we be able to analyze the data coldly.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Hail Mary...

Well, everyone, it's time to become Catholic and send your babies to Catholic schools. FoxNews examines the success of Catholic schools as they outperform public schools on less money.

Here's my analysis: their teachers are better than me.

It must be true because only about 50% of my students will be proficient on the state exam. Most likely, I am a pathetic excuse for a teacher.

Okay, enough of that. I do believe that Catholic schools, like charter schools, have a greater ability to demand excellence out of their students. There is no excuse making. The student either complies or is asked to leave. When our public schools can do that, then they will succeed.

My wife, a fourth grade teacher, told me a wonderful story today. A student misbehaved in line. She asked the student to return to the classroom, where the student teacher was, and wait for the student teacher to bring her down to lunch. The student did not return to the classroom until the classroom was empty. The student then trashed the room, walked to the principal's office, and complained that my wife wouldn't let her eat lunch. This student has had a few other behavioral problems this year. At a charter or Catholic school, she would be gone; at the public school? We have to get her to pass the test otherwise WE are the failure.

Hail Mary, full of grace.
Our Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women,
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb,
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

What Snow Days Prove

I'm looking out across the snow covered lake right now as Winter Storm Ella has begun to drop a new layer. Today is the fifth snow day of the year, and tomorrow looks like it will be the sixth. Watching the news reminds meof what snow days prove about education. One parent interviewed about all the time her child has spent at home this winter complained about what her child is missing out on at school. She lamented that her child would be playing video games all day.
Here are three things that snow days prove:
1. Parents believe education is the responsibility of the school system.

2. Parents get annoyed when teachers are not available to babysit their child.

3. Routines are necessary for children.