Educators: Diane Ravitch’s websites

Website            If you are an educator in America or follow education issues, you probably know about Dr. Ravitch’s websites. I highly recommend her websites, as Dr. Ravitch dares to challenge the status quo.

As she writes on her blog:

Diane Ravitch’s website

A bit about her background, from her website:

My website is dianeravitch.com.
I am a historian of education and Research Professor of Education at New York University.
I was born in Houston, Texas, attended the Houston public schools from kindergarten through high school, and graduated from Wellesley College in 1960. I received my Ph.D. in the history of American education in 1975.

Creativity and compassion should walk together.

teach                     Creativity and compassion should walk together–what does that even mean? Thank you, students.

I had no business entering teaching later on in life, and certainly had no business teaching where I did for my first full-time teaching job. I’d come out of business, gone to graduate school, and entered teaching in my middle years.

Prepared, but totally UNPREPARED for the great needs of the kids. My kids. Yes, I found teachers tend to refer to our students as OUR KIDS, MY KIDS. We love them.

My kids taught me so much, and among the many lessons learned is that it is better to be compassionate than talented.  Does the world need another poet? Maybe, although I love poetry and would argue how important poetry is to the ever changing world. But does the world need better teachers? Oh, yes. (Poets don’t hate me. I love poetry! We need great poets of social justice and to keep poetry alive!)

I found my talents were challenged daily, hourly, even every minute I taught.  I grew so much as a person in patience, humor, and love.  Yes, love. Can we even use that word?

I found my talent for researching resources and creating lessons to engage even the most reluctant learners were challenged every day.

Some time I will write about what I lost by teaching where I did for so long, but for now I want to acknowledge something that has changed my life for the better:

Kiddos, my Kids, all the students even my college students–you’ve helped me become a better person. I had no idea the heart could grow so much. (Can we say heart?)  I had no idea how much my talents that lay dormant when I worked in business would be needed as a teacher.

I know I am a much better teacher than I am a writer, and I am okay with that.  What I’ve gained through teaching is immeasurable, even shocking.  I had not expected that!  I promise I will continue to improve as a teacher, even in retirement years.

Thank you, students past and present–I so hope you are doing well.  Thank you.

Teach to Kill? On Arming Teachers…

insprie teacher change  Before I begin, I acknowledge there are caring teachers who need to protect themselves from harm while teaching; I myself was hurt more than once, threatened more than once, and was assaulted once.  I was lucky and wasn’t hurt badly at all, but I recognize there are many teachers who risk their own safety every day.  I also recognize there are teachers who could successfully handle being armed in the classroom.  Not me, however. 

And now…

This topic is so important to me, I’ve written two poems about the concept of making our American schools safer by arming teachers.  One has been published in  https://www.amazon.com/Dear-Mr-President-Journal-Modern/dp/0692100644/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1527104908&sr=8-1&keywords=dear+mr+president+poetry+book

A more recent poem is out for consideration right now.

I cannot stop thinking about this–so much could go wrong. I’ve stopped my list at two dozen things that can go wrong with arming teachers!  While I do believe in some very rare circumstances perhaps a teacher could save a life or two, I believe this would be so rare that arming teachers would only make teachers, schools, and students possibly less SAFE.

I have also made a list of the many things my colleagues and I have done to try and make students safer; the list is very long.

Please don’t ask, expect, or rely on teachers to shoot dead.  Teach to kill?  I’m not sure I want to teach with someone able to make split second life and death decisions; I know I would not be able to do so!  I ponder everything, even simple things.

It would change the very nature of teaching and the teacher/ student relationship, which is founded on trust and respect.

When I taught in an urban area, I only half jokingly told my students I would take a bullet for them. I know I always kept my door locked, checked up on students I was worried about, tried to get them the professional services they needed, reported anything that looked dangerous at school, and more.  I do not even want to write down some of the things I did when I was terribly worried about kids–I look back now and wonder what I was thinking.

I wasn’t thinking. I was hoping if I stayed at school long enough, nothing bad could happen to these great kids.  That was magical thinking, as if I, who left each day and headed to my mostly safe suburban patio grading papers could someone change the reality of where they lived.

And they get to you, kids.  They get into your heart in a way I was not prepared for. Losing one?  The thought was terrifying.

So perhaps I would have taken a bullet, but fire one? I don’t know.  I’m such a nervous person no one should want me with a gun.  Hubby has said my most formidable weapon was my relentless caring and fast talking.  Me with a car is dangerous.

Please don’t put this on teachers who tend to enter the field to help others or to pursue and promote their discipline.  We are not trained law enforcement agents nor should we be asked if we have a FOID CARD.  Would that then be an unspoken new plus, being armed?

This HSP http://hsperson.com/ (me) could not live with myself if I shot and missed and killed an innocent person. Or if I left a class to pursue an active shooter and my kids got hurt.  Or if I did manage to kill a violent shooter? I would spend the rest of my life pondering the morality of this.  I know I would not pass the psychological evaluation to be a police officer!  I am a pro at teaching and mentoring, and I imagine I am not alone.

Please don’t put this on us!  To quote my own poem, please let us inspire students with other than guns.

We have an arsenal of skills to protect and inspire–please not with guns.

On handwriting and the paper load… good-bye to journals & paperback books?

handwriting journal    When one has been writing as an almost sacred act since early childhood as I have, it’s hard to feel any of that skill slipping away.  I was a journal writer, often writing up to 30 (wretched!) pages a day.  From those early journals came some good poetry, some good fiction, and one important way of dealing with the world.  My creativity, my secret world, writing. I was a bit arrogant about my journals and more journals and more journals.  I fell in love with reading as well and became a double snob–give me books and a pen and I’ll reject much else.

But I only imagined making a living as a writer for a few moments; I am too sociable and loving of creature comforts to embrace the garret.  I worked in business for many years, and spent much of my time typing.  I then entered teaching, where I spent decades loving what I did, while damaging my hands, shoulders, spine, etc. Ask a long time teacher and you will hear about the toll lugging around multiple heavy book bags takes on the body!

Did I mention I became a reading, English, and ESL teacher?  Ask a literacy teacher about the paper load!

My hands, wrists, shoulders, all became damaged by overuse.  I could continue to type well, but for some reason, writing by hand became painful and difficult, even after surgery, physical therapy, and more.

Luckily, over the decades, the path from my mind to my hands as they type has become a quick one.  One of my jobs in business was to type up conversations as they occurred, so I learned to be “one with the keyboard.”

But handwriting?  My old friend?  No, that’s a loss to me.

But also a gift to realize not to judge others who need to approach literacy differently than I do.  It’s all right to type journals.  It’s all right to use the phone to write notes.  It’s all right to dictate journal entries.

A decade ago, we moved.  The thought of moving TONS of paper with us was causing my aching back and hands to, well–ache!  No, I let go of so much paper.

I now read mainly online–horrors!  I can carry hundreds of books with me on my phone.  While I do miss all those paper texts, it’s more important that I continue to read.  I now write mainly by typing.

I miss my old skills of being able to carry around the weight of the world in paper books and carrying my paper journals everywhere.But I admit I certainly appreciate the ability to remain a person of literacy by using technology.

Lessons learned? Don’t be a literacy snob, embrace reading, writing, and language in its many forms.

Just don’t ask me to walk through an office supply store without coveting beautiful journals, pens, and papers.

 

 

 

 

Publications

 

cropped-be-creative-creative-creativity-256514           Some of my poems, short stories, and nonfiction articles are included in books published in the UK, Greece, New Zealand, and the United States.

*Tuck Magazine, 2018

Tuck

* Southernmost Point Guest House (UK)

* Journal of Modern Poetry 21 (Volume 21)

JOMP Volume 21 Dear Mr. President

* Journal of Modern Poetry 20 (Volume 20)

JOMP Volume 20 Poetry Writer’s Guide to the Galaxy

* Journal of Modern Poetry 17 (Volume 17)

JOMP Volume 17

* Magazine (New Zealand) , Raewyn Alexander, Publisher

Raewyn Alexander NZ

* Fiction in: http://staxtes.com/2003/ “Between the Sunlight and the Skipping” in English Wednesdays

* Illinois English Bulletin, a publication of the National Council of Teachers of English, nonfiction.