This One’s For the Teachers

Post Date: April 6th, 2010

“He was so much master of the good-will and hearty service of his soldiers that those who in other expeditions were but ordinary men displayed a courage past defeating or withstanding when they went upon any danger where Caesar’s glory was concerned.”

Plutarch’s Caesar, translated by John Dryden.

O glorious day! My latest book, Teaching Julius Caesar: A Differentiated Approach, is now available to high school and middle school English teachers.

I wrote this book because of teachers and what they give each day in a tremendously challenging profession. Not many understand the extremely hard work that is teaching; or, if they do, they may be surprised to learn there’s an actual art to it. There is the constant, minute-by-minute process of lesson design, not just prior to the bell but while you’re on your feet in the classroom. There’s also the many lone hours logged trying to create the right mix of activities, meeting the right goals, and driving the right outcomes and work, surrounded by research, state standards, student feedback and products, materials and supplies, and countless other pieces to juggle. And somedays, when all you hear are the critiques, what a lonely, unsupported, and massive task this is.

There are so many dedicated teachers who come to work each day with hours of preparation already behind them, hours certainly not available between 3:00-5:00 PM. I’m thinking of my friends Laura and Karen, Angela and Robin, Roma and Joanne Galen and Gordon, Caroline and MyLinh, Erin and Patrick, Allison and David, and Cindi who just published Finding Mrs. Warnecke. Hours spent grading, making calls to parents, coaching teams and running activities, reporting and solving disciplinary issues, and serving on committees. Let’s not forget classroom cleaning, troubleshooting tech maintenance, and doing supply reconnaissance. Note I haven’t even mentioned “planning” in this list.

So yes, back to the lesson plans. A decent lesson plan takes me hours, and that’s just the first time through. I always revise and revise, and sometimes, throw many out and start fresh. And how about this: if you work on a team, there is the very special art of getting educators to collaborate.

Differentiated instruction is about juggling many complex elements–the readiness levels of your kids, their interests, and their learning styles–and trying to get the whole group engaged while satisfying individual needs. No more “blast to the masses” from the “sage on the stage.” Somedays, sage mode is good, but differentiated instruction calls for ringmaster, coach, and “guide on the side.” So, take this best practice and current demand on teachers, and place it on top of the list I just made.

This is why I write.

There are so many amazing teachers who work tirelessly and who are a joy to students. Like Plutarch’s assessment of Caesar, they are “so much master of the good-will” of their kids that those frisky souls behave when an administrator walks in; hang around after school with nothing better to do than tease their teacher; friend their former teachers on Facebook because of all the great memories; and remember this educator as a key person in their “raising.”

I’m thinking of Beverly and Julie, amazing teachers who now are administrators. Thank you to all my friends who stay in schools and serve.

There’s little glory in educational writing, simply because we teachers don’t pack a ton of cash to buy up bookstores. And that’s okay. Royalties help pay bills, but it’s the last reason I sit down to write these books. I write to walk alongside my colleagues who get up every day and teach.

2 Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    Lyn:

    Excellent post. You should share this with other blogs and publications that focus on education and the role of teachers.

    Archie

  2. Thanks, Archie. Good idea!

    Lyn












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