19 August 2022

No Nonsense Nurturer #2 - ALL the Kids' Learning

No-nonsense nurturers build "life-altering relationships" with their students by creating an environment of achievement with precise directions, positive narration, and systems of accountability. - paraphrase of Borrero, Every Student, Every Day, pg 9 
One of my favorite parts of being a teacher is the fraternity you join once you've spent your time in the classroom. I love being a part of the teacher squad. Everyone who was educated in public schools thinks they know, but there's a shorthand that public school teachers can carry through their conversations that sometimes just feels like...magic. 

That being said, far too often, those conversations can turn negative toward the students who were NOT successful in your room, and even worse, we quickly put the onus on the student as the reason for their failure (or lack of success of others in the class, too). 
"I can teach anyone that wants to learn."
"I wish all of our kids wanted to learn like [insert honors student] does"
"Why'd that kid fail? They just came to play every day, if they came at all."
In all honesty, I wish I could say the quotes above were only things I'd overhead the teachers' lounge or at staff meetings, but they're also variations of things that I've said in the past about kids. It's...ugly.

Isn't the point of the teacher being there to reach the ones that DON'T want to learn? The kids that are ready to learn, that don't need that extra touch from a caring professional need us a lot less, right? If we only hold ourselves accountable for the kids who WANT to learn, then what are we even doing? What impact are you having? 

Those of us that discover early on we want to get into education also tend to romanticize it, right? How many times did I watch Dead Poet's Society or Stand and Deliver in college or early in my career, putting myself in the Robin Williams role, or working at the board like the Hollywood version of Jaime Escalante? The teachers in most films about educators have the fairytale impact because they ignite and engage the students that "don't want to learn."

The aspect that excites me most about becoming a "No-Nonsense Nurturer" is their promise of 100% of students being 100% engaged, 100% of the time.  It's true, being a teacher is sometimes enough of a challenge getting through the year with "the kids who want to learn," but legacies and impact are made on developing and implementing systems and strategies that find successes with ALL kids. 

As long as we are implicitly or explicitly sorting children into groups of "learners" and "non-learners" or those who want to be there or don't, then we're going to leave kids behind. If you're still reading and you're a colleague of mine, please, I implore you - as a resident of this community, you have to hold yourself accountable for growth for all of your students. We cannot mentally write off any percentage of children each year as inevitable failures.

Let's keep each accountable to this. We can have that impact, every kid deserves it. 

11 August 2022

No Nonsense Nurturer #1 - Keeping An Open Mind

 "I don't want to feel like a robot."

"I'm not putting that thing in my ear."

"I'm not allowed to say, 'Please' or 'Thank you' anymore after I give directions? How will we teach these kids manners?"

Have you read that article yet? (They usually mean this one, from NPR)

These are all variations of critiques I heard from colleagues in my district last year when No Nonsense Nurturing was first introduced to the PreK to 5 teachers in our district at professional development day early in the year. Everyone was on the hot take to chalk this one up to another edu-consultant that was out of the classroom and cashing in on a book they wrote. Those with an open mind (or even feeling positive toward the approach) were either few and far between, or were just unvocal. Positive educators actually tend to be like that - the negative train pulls up to the station, and they just get off. 

Here's my take on it, on the eve of my own official introduction to the program (and the live-coaching that comes with it). Anytime I start hearing people parrot the lines of something their friend said someone else said, sharing the same link in the top 3 results of a Google search, or repeatedly sharing the critiques they all read in the previously mentioned singular blog or news article, my first inclination is to find out what people IN FAVOR of it say. This works for politics, the profession, your favorite sports team's trade deadline deal, or even the restaurant down the street. 

Tomorrow I'm going to receive this book from my district - 

- and I'll find out for myself how I feel about being a "No-Nonsense Nurturer." Let's start with a premise we can all agree upon: we DO want to reach every student every day, right? The title of a book is an inadequately short summary of its conclusion, but it's enough to make me pick up the book.

Are we SERIOUS about making sure that ALL kids learn to the highest levels? We have to have an open-mind to any and all strategies and resources to make that kind of impact. 
We'll see how tomorrow's PD goes, but if you're looking for me, you can find me toward the front, with an open book and an open mind. "That one student," and "these kids" deserve it.