kitchen table math, the sequel: "stop teaching"

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

"stop teaching"

from the Learning Cultures Journal, a poem by teacher Emily Jarrell:
Dear Ms. X,

I watched you last week.
I sat in your classroom
and I watched
your kids
I have some things
I need to tell you

I’m not quite sure how
to say all of this,
but here I go

I know
you go home each night
and plan for hours.

I know you search
the Internet for the newest
the coolest lesson plans.
You want to help
your students grow.


I know that you look at the tests
and you think about all that you will need
to “teach”
to get your students to do well.
You make lists
genres to cover
strategies to teach.
You create practice sheets
that look like the test
so your students will be


I watched you plan a unit,
imagining that this unit would be the one
that might get your kids writing,
and loving it.

Here’s where this gets hard.
I know you.
I know you all too well.
I watch you
every day.

I was you.


What makes this hard is
that I have to tell you something
you probably don’t want to hear:

I have to tell you,
your time, your precious, precious time,
is being wasted.

You are
your time.

You have to stop teaching.

your students are never going to achieve
at the levels you dream
and hope for when
you are the one doing all the work.

You have to stop teaching.

Your students need to
start doing
and struggling
and pondering.

Stop planning
those lessons
and activities and hoping
you will lead your students to new understandings.

Just stop

Have them do it.

Have them read.
Every day.

Have them write.
Every day.

Make them talk.
To each other.

Make them share.
With each other.

Watch them.
Listen to them.

Document what you see.
Fuel the flames of their intentions,

Stop teaching
for just enough time
for them to start

Think about it, Ms. X.
I know you’re scared.
just dare.

A Teacher, Colleague, Coach, and Mother.
  1. Is the Learning Cultures Journal actually a journal? Does it have an editorial board? A peer review process? Funding?
  2. Emily Jarrell
  3. A Masters degree from NYU's Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development  costs many thousands of dollars.
  4. Has the Urban Assembly Board of Directors read this poem?
  5. Meet the parents.
  6. Stop the multiverse, I want to get off.
Has Constructivism Increased Special Education Enrollment in Public Schools? By Nakonia (Niki) Hayes
Mathematics Education: Outwitted by Stupidity by Barry Garelick
Growth of Special Education Spending and Enrollment in New York since 2000-01

1 comment:

Barry Garelick said...

Reminds me of Dan Meyer's motto on his blog dy/dan: "Less Helpful" It used to be "Be Less Helpful" but he changed it when he got a lot of flack at KTM after his infamous TED talk about math teaching.