May 1, 2023
By Aleta Margolis, Founder and President, Center for Inspired Teaching
Hooray for Monday is a weekly blog filled with questions, ideas, reflections, and actions we can all take to remodel the school experience for students.
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Imagine this scenario: it’s 3:15 and your teaching day has just ended. You grab your second (or third) cup of coffee and the lunch you didn’t have time to eat at lunchtime and head for the faculty lounge for your school’s professional development session. But instead of feeling the usual sense of dread, you feel… Excited! Curious! Even supported!
For too many of us, that scenario sounds like a fantasy. But it shouldn’t be. We are teachers which, by definition, means we are professional learners. That’s part of our job. Every minute of our professional development, or professional learning, should be meaningful and productive. It should be something to look forward to – to help us not only do our jobs better but also enjoy them more.
Next week is Teacher Appreciation Week. One of the most powerful ways to show appreciation for teachers is to offer high quality engaging meaningful professional learning. That would be a demonstrative way to show respect for teachers as professionals.
Pizza parties and doughnuts and faculty breakfasts are wonderful. And I am by no means suggesting those aren’t important. They are! I still remember the six-layer strawberry shortcake a parent made one year for a faculty breakfast in the middle school where I was teaching.
But if we truly want teachers to feel supported, they need more than cake. Support looks like fair pay; a true voice in decision-making in the classroom, school, and larger community; reasonable class sizes; and trust in professional judgment to decide which books to teach and how to teach them. That kind of support demonstrates respect for teachers; but too often these very basic things are out of a school’s control – driven by outside politics.
Countless studies over many decades have shown that teachers, like all professionals, thrive when they are treated with respect. Here’s something that can be in a school’s control: the kind of PD offered to teachers.
Happy Teacher Appreciation Month to everyone in our Hooray For Monday community. Know that at Inspired Teaching we remain committed to providing teachers with quality learning experiences that honor your Intellect, Inquiry, Imagination, and Integrity. This is how we show our deep respect for all you do.
Stay tuned for an article I wrote about what good PD looks like that appears in the May issue of Kappan magazine coming out tomorrow.
What We’re Curious About
Each week a member of the Inspired Teaching community shares something that’s piquing their curiosity. Maybe it will spark yours too!
HOW BIRDS CHOOSE THEIR NEST SITES
Jenna Fournel, Director of Teaching and Learning
This weekend I was rummaging around in the shed and looked up to see some leaf matter poking out of a reusable bag on the wall. I leaned in to inspect the bag and a Carolina wren nearly flew into my eye. She was sitting on a beautiful nest of 4 eggs, built atop a pile of lawn trimming materials. To get into the shed when its doors are closed (which they usually are) she has to fly through a narrow gap at the top. It’s such a peculiar site for a birdnest I find myself thinking about it all time.
How did she find that spot? To fly between that crack in the doors she would have had to build the nest with very little light. It’s probably remarkably safe from predators but how on earth will she teach the babies how to fly out? We’ve had this shed for nearly 15 years, why is this the first bird to build a nest there? Will others follow suit? Will she nest there again next year? Will she have another brood this year? I’ve been researching Carolina wrens and nests and trying to learn more, but I delighted in this line from the Discover Wildlife website that feels very true, “Though research is allowing us to learn more about how bird nests work, we are unlikely to run out of questions.”
After each monthly Institute this school year, we've synthesized the learning into a handy booklet that describes activities and provides context for broader concepts. Check them all out here.
This site contains self-directed professional learning exercises designed to help you reflect on your practice and try new things. In recognition of their value to teachers, these resources won a Webby/Anthem Award this year!
In January we launched Hooray for 2023 – a new monthly feature on our website that offers resources designed to address teacher needs particular to each month of the year. See what May has to offer! And be sure to check back at the start of each month for a fresh curated set of tools to support your teaching.