(I have a soft spot in my heart for brassy people in general, come to think of it.)
I'm trying to remember whether palisadesk has given us studies on teacher effectiveness having to do with the teacher as a strong personality -- ? Can't remember. If she's around, I hope she'll weigh in.
In any event, this teacher sounds like a lot of fun.
She was inspired to write a manifesto on taking the bull by the horns after attending a two-day conference on professional learning communities:
From: Ballantine, Sara
Sent: Thursday, January 29, 2009 10:49 PM
To: All Teachers and Staff
Subject: The Problem With Education in America: An Autobiography
Dear Esteemed Colleagues,
I would like to take this opportunity to say, well, to say that we suck. Don’t believe me? Ask Rob, he’ll show you the numbers. Now please take a minute to compose yourselves, grab a tissue, call your mom/spouse/brother/sister/accountant/etc. to wallow in self pity.
Done? Let’s move on.
The question still remains, who is to blame?
No, scratch that. That isn’t the question. The question remains, WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO ABOUT IT?
I do need to preface this by saying that I have no misgivings about my talent, as well as my shortcomings. I believe it would be safe to say that we, in fact, all have talent, as well as shortcomings. So again, just to be clear, I write this not to determine who is the “suckiest” out of all of us, but rather, as a call to action.
We are all aware that our first semester numbers were pretty dismal to say the least...I don’t feel the need to outline all of the barriers in our way; we are all well aware of the current state of things in our country, our district, and our school.
Thus, I propose that we stop focusing on the things we can’t change, and concentrate on the things we can.
Let’s stop blaming the social demographics of our students, the apathy of parents, the lack of motivation in our students, the skills that they “didn’t come in with,” the middle school teachers, the elementary teachers, the birth control that the parents of our students didn’t take, the fact that we didn’t have any coffee this morning, the union, admin, each other, and start taking responsibility for the job that we were hired to do.
Let’s change our focus from the curriculum that is not available, the money that isn’t there, the challenges imposed by the “block” schedule, and start looking to each other as our greatest resources.
The issue is critical, more so than some of us care to admit, and the time to take action is now. Actually, it was yesterday, and even before that, so it must be NOW.
I understand that I am saying things that many of us don’t want to hear, presenting issues that we would rather not confront, and making suggestions that we fear we will not be able to fulfill. I understand that this letter will make me unpopular among some of you, and expect some criticism. And to be frank, I really don’t care. I say that with conviction because this isn’t about me, it’s not about you, it’s about the 900 lives that we are charged with five days a week, 180 days a year, and the job we elected to do.
Some of us will be convening in the staff lounge (in the cafeteria) tomorrow at lunch to begin this dialogue and create and action plan; however, I hope to see ALL of us there. Let’s face it; we don’t have until next week, next month or next year.
So, Esteemed Colleagues, I propose that we do everything we can to make us not just “Better than Good,” but that we do whatever it takes to be more gooder.
No, scratch that. Let’s be great.
I'm sorry, but I have to say it: DUMP THE BLOCK SCHEDULING. I mean, c'mon. You've got a teacher with a big mouth who's willing to lead the charge, rally the troops, swear off complaining (and gossiping!) in the teacher's lounge -- and you're saddling her with block scheduling?
How about no?
Since I'm not a teacher, I want to add that I haven't put up this post because I think Ms. Ballantine and her colleagues "suck."
I've put it up because I think Ms. Ballantine's approach to herself, her job, and her abilities is pretty close to exemplary -- at least, it is for a certain personality type. Probably the brassy personality type. As she says, she's not concerned about her talent or her shortcomings; she knows she has talent and she knows she has shortcomings. Talent and shortcomings are neither here nor there. What matters is the kids, and that's what she's saying.
"I suck and my data isn't great" can be a highly productive attitude, and I'm in a position to know. That's all.
The Comments are nice, too.