This is a nagging concern for me actually. It is a pedagogical dilemma particularly persistent for English teachers, I think, to consider what counts in a curriculum.
Should I be focusing on the endless grammar issues my students struggle with? Should I be sure to teach Shakespeare, Hemingway, and “classic” canonical literature? Does assigning vocabulary lists make me a real English teacher?
Recently, I was contacted by a producer at NBC who wanted to set up an interview with me and Jenna Bush as part of the Education Nation coverage. The interview fell through, but I spent a lot of time thinking about what I would say if given the chance to discuss teaching live on national television. Here, I compose my would-be interview:
Simulated Jenna Bush: So, Molly, what keeps teachers going these days?
I have been thinking a lot about Race to the Top lately, as I’m sure many of us have. I’ve been thinking so much about the complexities and implications of the program that I almost don’t know where to start.
I could start by discussing Arne Duncan’s recent interview on NPR, in which he praised the “amazing results” of the program; or by reviewing the formal criticism recently put forth by leading civil rights organizations, including the NAACP; or compare my own ideas to those of Diane Ravitch, posited in a recent article. For me, though, perhaps the most troubling aspect of the entire policy is a very fundamental one: language.
As I completed my fifth year of teaching this June, it occurred to me that I had survived the curse and beaten the statistic of half of all new teachers quitting within their first five years.
Although I find it much more honorable to recognize teachers who have made education their life’s work and have put in 25, 30, 35 years in public schools, I sighed a breath of relief at five years under my belt and took time to reflect on what I have learned in the past five years that will sustain me in the next 25.
Teaching For Joy and Justice: Re-imagining the Language Arts Classroom - the title makes it sound so easy to do! In her most recent book Linda Christensen offers a combination of practical solutions, theoretical frameworks, and inspirational anecdotes for teachers who attempt each and every day to make their classrooms sites of just and joyful learning.