Let’s all stick to what we’re good at

Everyone is good at something.
For some of us, that is teaching.
For others, it is nursing, flying, or electrical work.

But everyone has some sort of skilled task they are better at than others. They are better than others at it because they have years of training, experience, and have studied all of the relevant information in their field.

Never in my life have I walked into the cockpit of an aircraft and told the pilot how I think he should fly the aircraft. Why? Because I’ve not spent any time getting trained or educated in how to fly an aircraft, I do not understand their inner workings, and thus, I should not attempt to fly an aircraft.
I have never gone into the operating room of a hospital and told the surgeon how I think he should perform the surgery. I have not attended medical school and am not qualified to make such a decision.
I’ve not told an electrician how I think my home should be wired because I know equally as much about proper electrical wiring and grounding as I do about flying an aircraft. Which is zero.

Yet for some reason, because everyone has gone to school, people feel like they know everything there is to know about public education and that they are far more knowledgeable about how to teach than the actual teachers are.

You have no idea.

People don’t sit around all day commenting on how surgeons should be performing operations or how elections should be wiring homes, yet for some reason, everyone and their mother feels qualified to know exactly what is wrong with education and exactly how to “fix” it.

More often than not, that solution is, in some shape or form, blame the teachers.

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Southwest Commercial

I flew Southwest twice this past week, going to and from a vacation in Denver (LAX->DEN and back)

While in the Denver airport, a woman was having a conversation with her family about how flying Southwest lets them “dress normally” for a flight. The man next to them started cracking up laughing and soon, several other people waiting at the gate all shared their stories as well. The family that started “the joke” had all confessed to flying a low-budget carrier one time or another and, in an effort to not check a bag, everyone in the family wore an extra layer of clothes. Mom says “I remember wearing an undershirt, a normal shirt, a long sleeve shirt, and my jean jacket over it all!” while brother adds “I wore my jeans over my swim trunks… over my boxers!”

The older gentleman says that he’s also partaken in the “layer it on” games in order to save on checked bag fees, and he once wore four layers of clothing on a flight!

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I don’t like the education phrase “Students Will Be Able To…” (SWBAT)

It’s the first line of my university lesson plan template, and I get the feeling I’m not alone in this.

Google the phrase and you’ll find tons of lesson plan templates.

Other people agree with me, down with SWBAT. 

Belinda Thompson over at TeachingTweaks introduces a new acronym (to add to education’s dizzying array of acronyms) – SWUT, or “Students Will Understand That….”

So why don’t I like SWBAT? Because not every lesson needs students to be able to do something. “Students will be able to…” focuses on the product. “Students will understand that…” focuses on the process.

With SWBAT, we’re looking at what the product of the lesson is. Students will be able to do this, or do that. Students will be able to plug numbers into a formula. Students will be able to identify key words in a text. Students will be able to ace their state exam (ahem…) SWBAT doesn’t promote student understanding – it promotes students being able to do something. In particular, with subjects like math, understanding and doing are two totally different things – it’s easy to follow formulas and systems without understanding the why or how.

SWUT changes all of this. SWUT puts the lesson’s focus and objective on students understanding the key concept.

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Joined the CTA


I have had more than one professor warn me about the dangers of liability lawsuits and the urgent need for professional liability insurance during the two semesters of student teaching (and beyond). School district insurance policies are typically designed to protect the district, not the teacher, and definitely not an unemployed student teacher. After countless warnings from different professors, I decided to research insurance options, and ended up going with the CTA/NEA membership insurance (which is a benefit extended to “student membership” members).

It’s really scary and awesome at the same time to realize that, not only am I now a member of a professional organization, but that I’m one step closer to actually becoming a teacher. In less than 4 months from now, I will be stepping foot into a classroom as a student teacher to begin my last leg of the long journey to finally become a teacher. (I only *just* realized that student teaching is less than 4 months away. Wow. Now that’s scary.)

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