Thursday, August 24, 2006

Entertaining an Elephant

In an excerpt I read from Fires in the Bathroom, Kathleen Cushman points out the lack of student voice in the curriculum and ultimately appears to equate this feeling of alienation with the disruptive behavior outside of the classroom of which the book title implies. The only way to combat the tendency of teachers to spoon feed information to students and fill the students “banks” with information which will later be tapped during an exam is to change the idea of what it means “to teach”.

In William McBride's book, Entertaining an Elephant: A Novel About Learnng and Letting Go, the protagonist s ready to fill the "banks" of his students and is challenged by questions that the debate team leaves unwashed on his board each afternoon. In a Shakepearian twist the janitor is the bearer of wisdom and the hero, a mid career burnt out teacher must learn to accept that his persoanl definiton of "education" is not without fault. The main character is tossed into the world of essential questions, and reluctantly creates a democratic classroom with student voice.

Teachers truly need to embrace the opportunities for student voice through project based learning. So much lip service is given to “teachers as facilitators” that the meaning is lost behind classroom doors. Students can emerge as contributing individuals during project based learning. Leaders naturally emerge and take charge of groups, artists find a need for their skills among their peers, those who are organized can share their talent, and through personal experience I have seen the quiet or non-participant become engaged when offered the warm welcome of small group instruction.

The only way to reach multiple intelligences and multiple personalities effectively in the same classroom is through a broad scoped authentic project with an essential question. The question must not simply be the teacher fishing for a set preconceived answer but must encourage the students to think out of the metaphorical box and go further with their own series of questions. The project must contribute to the field of knowledge they are studying and apply directly to their perceived world of importance.

Students come into our classrooms with a certain expectation of freedom. They enter the safeguarded doors of our classroom expecting to have a voice, expecting to demonstrate their previously mastered skills, expecting to direct the disscusion in the classroom toward their agenda. The want the teacher to monitor the disscusion, help them when they are struggling with expression, help them mediate problems in their groups, and show them new ways to answer essential questions.

According to Jacquelynne Eccles in her article; Control versus Autonomy During Early Adolescence, when teacher's view of adult control comes into conflict with their perception of expected freedom students ultimately become alienated.

Removing the alienation of the student voice in the classroom and allowing students to create the environment around them by creating authentic works of demonstrative knowledge will ultimately reengage students in the post-modern classroom. The proceeding is not so easy to say and even more difficult to employ. Teachers’ roles as facilitators are now developing authentic projects. Teachers must step up to meet this challenge if the action research that Cushman has presented has any value. The reflective students she revealed in her discourse could easily be sitting in any of our classrooms.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Essential Motivation

I started to think about an Essential Question for the beginning of the school year that I may begin to use in my Global Studies classes at QHST. I quickly came up with the question: What does it mean to be civilized? After pondering this thought, (and of course searching the internet aimlessly) , I came to realize that this question could easily be applied to art and literature as well as Global Studies. Through my search I came across the article I reposted here about the process of creating an effective essential question. I now am wondering, Is my question going to encourage my students to go furthe? or is there a finite group of answers I am looking for?

I could use help from anyone who has a suggestion...thanks!

Basically I'm trying to avoid this "Ben Stein Effect"!

WEAC News -November 2000

What makes a work of art great? Why do people find the painting Guernica by
Picasso so compelling? What makes a Frank Lloyd Wright building so remarkable?
Why is Aaron Copland’s lyrical Appalachian Spring such a heralded piece
of music? What was it about Walker Evans’ photographs that renders his
images so memorable? Why do generations keep discovering magic in a novel
such as “To Kill a Mocking-bird?” How do we explain the appeal of a Mozart
opera, an Emily Dickinson poem, a Henry Moore sculpture, a Sergei Eisenstein
motion picture, a Billie Holiday recording? How do we account for what
makes some artistic works great?

Or to perhaps ask it another way, “Why should we bother
to become acquainted with works such as these?” Certainly, this is an
essential question, a question that cuts right to the core of art and
what makes some art meaningful, powerful, and enduring. And it’s a question
that would undoubtedly elicit a variety of possible answers, probably
some disagreement, and perhaps even heated passions.

Last month’s Reading Room column (October 2000) described
a method of unit planning that Wiggins and McTighe (2000) term Backward
Design. The concept behind backward design is to organize instruction
first around “big ideas,” those central and focusing ideas within a topic
that make it worthwhile to study, the gist of a unit that provides students
with important insights about their world, the essence of learning that
students retain long after their days in the classroom are over. The way
to get at big ideas, suggest Wiggins and McTighe, is through essential

The Strategy

Most of the questions that confront students in our curriculum are leading
questions. Leading questions direct learning toward a set answer and are
helpful in making sure that students are clear on key basic information.
But essential questions help students dig deeper into a topic. Organizing
a unit around essential questions involves the following steps:

Step 1: Consider what transcendent questions
might be embedded in a topic or unit of study. Why? or So What? are examples
of over-arching questions that help students see critical connections
or relationships within a topic area. Why exactly are we studying this?
How can this be applied in the larger world? What couldn’t we do if we
didn’t understand this? What’s the “moral of the story”? What is worth
remembering, after time has passed, about this topic, unit, novel, or

For example, why should students read the novel, “Lord
of the Flies”? Why this book and not another? What will they gain from
this experience that will make a difference to them? What are the “big
ideas” in this work? What makes this book a classic?

Questions like these help teachers focus on the “point”
of instruction. Unlike leading questions, which could help students follow
key events of the plot, spot the author’s use of symbolism, or clarify
characterization, these overarching questions tap into larger ideas that
can be accessed during a unit such as a novel study of “Lord of the Flies.”

Step 2: Next, decide on “topical” essential questions
which directly relate to a specific topic or unit of study. For example,
essential questions germane to “Lord of the Flies” might include: What
does it mean to be civilized? Are modern civilizations more civilized
than ancient ones? What is necessary to ensure civilized behavior? Do
children need to be taught to be civilized? What causes us to lose civilized

Wiggins and McTighe argue that essential questions like
those posed above have a number of critical attributes. First, they are
arguable; there is no single obvious “right” answer. Such questions ask
students to “uncover” ideas, problems, controversies, philosophical positions,
or perspectives. Second, essential questions often reach across subject
boundaries and engender a series of ensuing and related questions that
help us reach an understanding. Third, these questions often strike right
at the heart of a discipline, such as what can novels tell us, whose version
of history is being told, can we ultimately prove anything in science
and how do we know what we think we know.

Fourth, essential questions are also recursive; that
is, they naturally reoccur, often many times, during the study of a discipline.
First graders as well as college students can offer valid aesthetic judgments
about what makes a book a great book, for example.

Finally, essential questions can provide a focus for
sifting through the information and details of a unit of study, and they
especially encourage student inquiry, discussion, and research. They involve
students in personalizing their learning and developing individual insights
into a topic.

Step 3: Once you have focused a unit on essential
questions, design daily activities and assessments that include student
processing of these issues. Essential questions can guide students through
assignments and help them see the intent behind a unit of study and perceive
lasting value.

For example, essential questions for a history unit
on “manifest destiny” and the movement of settlers west in America could
include: Why do people move? Do people migrate for the same reasons today
that they did in the 19th century? Who has the “right” to a particular
territory? Who wins and who loses during major population shifts? Questions
such as these can help students focus on big ideas as they study the events
such as the Oregon Trail, the Mexican War, the California Gold Rush, and
the conflicts between settlers and native peoples in the Great Plains.

Activities such as position papers, debates, role playing,
and simulations can be especially effective in helping students formulate
working answers to these essential questions. Certainly leading questions
that help students establish key information are an integral part of instruction.
But students also come to realize that knowledge does not necessarily
exist for its own sake, but is used to understand important dynamics about
human behavior.


Much of our curriculum is geared to telling students “what.” Essential
questions help students to perceive “why.” In addition:

  • Students are engaged in critical thinking as an integral part of learning.

  • Students begin to expect more than factual information; they become
    accustomed to examining topics and issues with more depth.

  • Students are encouraged to take an inquisitive and questioning approach
    to the curriculum, and to develop answers that personalize their learning.

  • Learning centered around essential questions is more likely to be
    remembered over time.

By Doug Buehl, Madison East High School teacher Member, Wisconsin State Reading Association

Further Resources:

Wiggins, G. & McTighe, J. (2000)

Understanding By Design.

Alexandra, Va: ASCD.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Global Group Work and Guavas

For ten years now I have been teaching in NYC. At first I was amazed at the diversity of the student body. I grew up in Levittown on Long Island. The town is a model of a post-war white suburb of NYC. There were no ESL students in my classes in the 80's. I went to public school k-8 and private school for HS. I honestly had no contact with anyone who was culturally different from myself.

While attending St. John's University I still tended to hang out with people who were similar to me. I was a member of the Irish Society on Campus and would socialize at Irish bars in Woodside and the Bronx in the evenings.

When I first walked into a NYC classroom I was amazed at what I had missed growing up. I was excited about the resources and wealth of experiences my diverse student body brought to my room. Simply listening to American History through the eyes of former citizens of various nations opened my world up. I definitely learned so much more from my first students than I was able to give them.

My level of original awe has dimished recently. I am still always looking for opportunities to allow cultural perspectives in the classrooms. However I have taken for granted though the diversity of NYC.

Today was a rebirth in me though. I realized today how lucky I am to be teaching in NYC. Today I sat in PD reading a memoir written by a Puerto Rican author, then discussed the excerpt with four other teachers as prompted to by the facilitators. One of the teachers as a child spent her summers in Puerto Rico knocking premature fruit from a tree , one grew up in the Philippines being disgusted at the smell of overripe guavas (she liked them to armpits) , another grew up in Ecuador who has not eaten a guava since she left her homeland, and the third was raised in El Salvador who claims US food looks nice but he can taste the chemicals in the fruit. The experience made me realize how special it is to teach in NYC. And there was me who quite frankly could not pick a guava out of a line up.

It was truly a memorable moment and something that I believe could only happen in the NYC Department of Education (or Phoenix) during a professional developement session. One of the teachers in the group referred to connectors in Malcolm Gladwell's “Tipping Point”. Education seems to be the connector here. We are going to accomplish great things here at QHST.

Monday, August 14, 2006

An Out of Classroom Experience

Anne Davis a professor of Technology at Georgia State University wrote a brief article about how to use Blogging in the Classroom. She writes specifically about how using the personal publishing aspect of the “Blogosphere” can contribute to the writing abilities of high school students. Professor Davis is in no way claiming that blogs and peer review eliminate the need for educators, in fact she goes on to write that the teacher workload and expectations of meaningful comments from teachers is actually increased.

The internet does not make teaching any easier. Technology is only as good as the teachers employing its use. David Huffaker ,along with several teachers in our school and across the globe have blogs already up and running. Here I am simply hyper linking blogs I’ve come across and trying to categorize them into realms of how I percieve teachers using them.

Using the Blog in the Classroom
As an educational tool, blogs may be integrated in a multi-faceted manner to accommodate all learners. Blogs can serve at least four basic functions.

  1. Classroom Management
    Class blogs can serve as a portal to foster a community of learners. As they are easy to create and update efficiently, they can be used to inform students of class requirements, post handouts, notices, and homework assignments, or act as a question and answer board.

  2. Collaboration
    Blogs provide a space where teachers and students can work to further develop writing or other skills with the advantage of an instant audience. Teachers can offer instructional tips, and students can practice and benefit from peer review. They also make online mentoring possible. For example, a class of older students can help a class of younger students develop more confidence in their writing skills. Students can also participate in cooperative learning activities that require them to relay research findings, ideas, or suggestions.

  3. Discussions
    A class blog opens the opportunity for students to discuss topics outside of the classroom. With a blog, every person has an equal opportunity to share their thoughts and opinions. Students have time to be reactive to one another and reflective. Teachers can also bring together a group of knowledgeable individuals for a given unit of study for students to network and conference with on a blog.

  4. Student Portfolios
    Blogs present, organize, and protect student work as digital portfolios. As older entries are archived, developing skills and progress may be analyzed more conveniently. Additionally, as students realize their efforts will be published, they are typically more motivated to produce better writing. Teachers and peers may conference with a student individually on a developing work, and expert or peer mentoring advice can be easily kept for future reference.

Briefly review each of the following hyperlinked blogs. At the conclusion of this article you will notice a question and a place to leave comments. Please, after viewing all the “types” of blogs try posting your comment and adding to the article. Through collaboration the apparent use of this medium will become more clear.

There are Reflective Blogs : here students are asked to post their thoughts and concerns around a lesson or culminating project. The blog is not the project, but it is expected that each student add their personal reflection in the form of a comment. Teachers and the public can comment on the work the course has completed.

This does not imply that the blog cannot be incorporated into the final project. The School Wide Values Team in the Montessori Small Learning Community at QHST created a Theme Blog, sharing the experience students have had with the school wide values. The administrator of this blog is sent update notification when comments are left by readers.

Next, and probably the most common use in the classroom is for Personal Publishing. Here the level of concern is inherently increased by the anticipated watchful eyes of their peers and the public at large. The posts are student generated and the comments are the peer feedback student authors crave.

Another creative classroom technique I came across was to unite high school students in a croos country conversation on a Single Issue Blog, here seniors from The Queens High School of Teaching, along with members of Eric Contreras’ College Now class on immigration, and students from a Bilingual high school class in Arizona joined together in cyberspace to explore various perspectives on the issues surrounding immigration. Please pay particular attention to the use of comments on this blog. The original author is not moderating the discussion, but the conversation among QHST students has continued with a high level of academia.

Clear directions and high expectaions are an essential part of any lesson. Lessons involving the internet are no exception. In my tenth grade global studies class, students were asked to comment on the findings of their research on the Renaissance. Students were giving specific directions as to what was expected by their participation. They each had to comment a set number of times and students were asked to refer to each other as well as add new information to the disscussion. For the purpose of this workshop we will refer to this as a “Dialogue Blog”. I was totally inspired by Mayo’s Book Blog and our joint primary venture our Advisory Blog.

From a clearly informational aspect blogs have been used successfully in college classes for several years. Pace University as well as many others have created hybrid classes that require students to post on closed blogs (not open to public viewing) called “blackboards”. Christine Brody has effectively adapted this idea. In her blog, English classes, advisory and DEAR openly communicate with the teacher and eachother. Although the posts do not change, the comments are updated and answered periodically on this “Classroom Update Blog.”

As a professional teacher we are constantly being asked to become reflective practioners. To journal and share our thoughts as to how our pedagogical experiences can be enhanced. Professional Reflection Blogs. Are meant to keep an online record of (to steal from Nigel) “how our thoughts are developing."

Students already use various forms of blogging. Websites such as MySpace and Sconex have received a cool reception in most school districts across the country. This is partly due to the uncontrolled access by the public to comment. With the comment moderation control available, teachers with relative ease are finding to be more suited to classroom needs. Teachers have the ability view and censor any and all content that is submitted by readers before it is posted on the web. It is not surprising that students have generated their own blogs. Student Blogs will be more common as teacher use increases.

OK, now that you have previewed over ten types of blogs; How might you incorporate this simple internet technology into your pedagogical repertoire? What concerns do you have about blogging? What can Brown do for you? (what further PD can be provided?)

When you are ready to leave a comment and wish to set up a free account with ask Brown for assistance. However if you do not wish to open a free account, and intend on leaving a comment please check the “other” circle leave your name and any website that identifies you as the “My Web Page ” address. You do not have to have an account to leave a comment!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Student Exhibitions

The following was what Brian Eddelson, Social Studies Teacher QHST: Freire Small Learning Community shared with us during Summer PD on 8/8/06. I thought Brian's reflection on how to create a student exhibition was fantastic and wanted to share it with everyone.

Student Exhibition Assessment:

A forum where students showcase an understanding of content through exhibiting a creative piece of work. A student exhibition is a grand finale of many arduous hours of group research, preparation, resolved conflicts, and discovery learning. The rules and shape of an exhibition change from teacher to teacher. Class to class. But the objective remains consistent across the board –that students learn by “doing” and “showing”.

How To Create A Student Exhibition

I: Think Backwards

It’s always best to visualize what your end product is going to look like. Ask yourself - What will my students be creating? Will the end product be something tangible or abstract? How will my students be graded? What timelines will I set? How will I ensure everyone is learning?

These are all tough questions, but each is necessary to perform a successful exhibition. Surely the unexpectedwill arise from time to time, but the more you can visualize the details of your exhibition and what the endresult will look like, the more likely you will avoid glitches that take away from the overall experience.

II: Make It An Event

Students need to feel that the project is important. By promoting the exhibition as a big event students will buy into the idea of showcasing their work and their nervous anticipation will fuel their learning. Making the exhibition feel like a special event makes students feel they need to be more accountable for their work. A good technique is to keep reminding students how many days are left, etc. You might even want to have a countdown board. This is just one example; there are plenty of ways to make students feel how special the exhibition will be. But remember try your best to not disappoint. If you plan to invite judges - then do so. If you tell your students that the exhibition will be held in a certain place - then try your best to arrange it. However in the end, if the exhibition somehow does not turn out to be the big event you envisioned, your students still need to sense your enthusiasm. The more pride and enthusiasm you show for their work the more special the event will be for your students. Ultimately you make the event special. Everything else is icing on the cake.

III: Preparation & Organization

You don’t want to be putting out fires all the time. Being prepared and organized is vital to the success of your exhibition. Not only will you rely on your own notes, rules, etc.but also more importantly, the students will immediately sense the professionalism you display. The more professional your project is, meaning the moretime and thought you put into it, the more positive students will react and take your exhibition seriously. In fact, the less questions and concerns your students have, the more likely they get it!

For our exhibition, students created Civil War Newspapers. I asked the students to write from either the Northern (Union) or Southern (Confederate) perspective. I stressed how this was the main objective. I handed each of them a kit. Notice how prepared and detailed it is. This took me quite some time but it also saved me a lot of headaches. Students could refer to the kit to answer many of their questions freeing me up to facilitate the project (ensuring teams are progressing in research, etc.)

· A Title Page and Table of Contents

· Objective, Rules & Roles

· Grading Policy, Reward & Calendar

· Graphic Organizer

· Team Lists

· Reminders

· Student Accountability Sheets

· Progress Report

· Checklist

· Judge’s Rubric

***This is just one way of organizing your project. Handouts can look like anything. In fact, handouts might not be something you wish to include. Whatever works - works. However, one thing is for sure – students should feel from the onset that they have “some” grasp on demanding and challenging projects that require exhibitions.***

IV: Choose Wisely

It took me half a year before I even began to really figure out who my students were. Not just academically, but also as people outside the classroom. That is why that I suggest that if you are teaching students you are not familiar with that you only attempt exhibitions after at least a couple of months of the school year have passed. This is when I decided to do so and it was one of the best decisions I made.

There’s no doubt that group work is difficult but certainly has its rewards. When the time came to conduct my student exhibition project I was confident that random group selection would not be best for my students. So I chose 12 group leaders (4 in each class) as Chief Editors of the newspapers. These people were chosen not only on their prior academic achievements but also because they demonstrated leadership qualities that can rise up to such a challenge. I cannot stress the importance of choosing students who work well with others, learn from their mistakes and who know how to turnkey constructive criticism to their group members.

Each leader chosen got together and confidentially chose their members. At no time did the rest of the class ever know who was chosen when. In the end, the teams were very balanced and team leaders expressed that they were glad they were in control of group development. Our end product in such a short period of time illustrates how well teams worked together.

V: Don’t Teach. Guide.

It’s very easy to put on our teacher hats and do what comes naturally but in essence being a teacher during an exhibition pretty much conflicts will your objective of students learning by doing and showing. This is not to say teachers do not teach during student exhibition projects. Quite the contrary. Teachers actually do more work. When you take into account all the preparation a teacher puts into such a project and the depth of learning that comes out of a successful exhibition it is safe to say that teachers truly teach their hearts out. Yet to an observer this might be hard to see since the teacher’s role is best as facilitator and guide and not necessarily an all-knowing answer bank. I would argue that the teacher that is hard to find in the classroom is the teacher whose class is doing the most work. So be confident in guiding your students through exhibitions. Your preparation and set rules provide the necessary framework for student success, they will fill in the rest.

VI: Trust

This brings us to trust. It is key that you put trust in your project and in your students. It is easy to find yourself worrying day and night if your students can pull an exhibition off. Worrying about students is a sign of a caring teacher. More often than not students have a knack to surprise and usually surpass our expectations. As long as you continue to guide students and listen to their concerns, they will find a way to succeed. Placing trust in exhibition assessments will demonstrate a confidence that students will pick up on.

VII: Stick To Your Guns

Never change anything unless it is absolutely necessary. If you completely put trust in your project then you shouldn’t have to modify it. For example, avoid extending deadlines or altering rules during the project. Those are things you should change, if needed, after reflecting on the project in preparation for making improvements for the following year. Changing the project during the process might be the kiss of death. Students will feel that your flexibility equates to poor management and lack of confidence that the exhibition will be a success. Only you define what success means. If you stick to your guns, believe in the project, and demonstrate enthusiasm no matter the output, then students will feel it was a success.

VIII: The Judging Process

Students are the real judges in an exhibition. If you succeed in making them feel the exhibition is a special event and that their work is important and meaningful then you pretty much hit a homerun. A part of making an exhibition so special is having visitors critiquing student work. Knowing outsiders will judge them; students will hold themselves accountable for their work and do their best to standout.

Your rubric should be simple for both student and judge. Judges should stick to the rubric and try not to assess students on outside material.

Your communication with the judges before the event also must be consistently followed through. Several emails, phone calls, flyers, etc. should be presented to remind your busy judges of the big event.

And lastly, if possible, your judges should be an enthusiastic bunch. This is not to say they should grade similarly, but it is certainly an added bonus if judges, for the most part, are energized to see student work. For students, judge who wishes to be elsewhere stands out like a sore thumb.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Summer PD


I received a forwarded email (a joke) from a friend yesterday that really got me thinking about how lucky I am to be in the place I am in right now. The “Joke” which I'm sure you have heard before is as follows:

A teacher dies and goes to Heaven. When she gets there she meets Saint Peter at the pearly gates.
Peter says to her, "Welcome to Heaven. Let me giveyou an orientation first."

So Peter takes her to some beautiful houses.
The teacher asks, "Who lives here in these beautiful houses?"

"These are for doctors. They did a lot of good on Earth so they get a nice mansion," replies Peter.

Peter takes the teacher to some more mansions. These were more magnificent than the first.

"Wow, who lives here?"

"These mansions are for social workers. They did alot of good on Earth, but didn't make a lot of money so they get a better house." Peter takes the teacher to some more mansions. These are the most gorgeous homes she had ever seen. They have huge columns, well manicured lawns, beautiful stained glass windows - - - the works!

"These are the most beautiful homes I have ever seen," exclaims the teacher. "Who lives here?!"

"Teachers live here," says Peter, "they did much good on Earth and received very little money, so they get the best houses in all of Heaven."

"But where are all of the teachers?" inquires the teacher.

Peter answers, "Oh, they'll be back soon. They're all in Hell at a faculty meeting."


Although faculty meetings at some schools might be viewed as Hell, our meetings are interactive and time flies by. I have been through the "hell" meetings at previous teaching assignments and my only regret is I did not recognize sooner that the school is a place where teachers are the professionals. We need to be the ones sharing our expertise. Meetings need to engage the teachers and be generated by our respected colleagues. If student-centered classrooms are the expectation in our classrooms then teacher-centered faculty meetings must be our means of staff development.

PS> Advisoy link ------>Here

Friday, August 04, 2006


Not only do we get to know the students well through our model of small learning communities but fortunately we get to know the teachers just as well.

This is “Year Four” of the Queens High School of Teaching. When I first arrived here ( Year Two) I immediately thought to myself, “Wow!... I’m lucky I got onto the staff when I did, why would anyone leave this teaching environment?”

Now that Y4 is dawning my original contention has not changed. I do recognize our school is not for everyone. Some students will be overwhelmed by the expectations of cooperative group work placed upon them when they cross the threshold of our institution. Some parents will undoubtedly be overwhelmed by the unparalleled desire to maintain mixed abilities cohort classes within a set small learning community. I can sympathize with the struggle new students and their parents must face with these breaks from tradition. What perplexes me is the need for teachers/ counselors to move on.

Granted our school expects much from its staff. There is a sense of a developing professional culture mandated, not from the administration, but from our own colleagues that seems to pervade conversations throughout the building. Because of this “professional culture” there is not much “downtime” between August 7th and June 28th.

Are teachers leaving for greener pastures?

Do suburban schools offer the same opportunities to make revolutionary changes in society?

Are traditionally formatted schools such a draw for professional reflective teachers?

The colleagues that have decided to move on are teachers. They are good teachers. If they terminated their time with us and left the profession a void in the world of education would have to be refilled.

Reflecting on their departures from my small learning community, I am internally struggling with what we (as a professional community) could have done to retain these colleagues and their expertise? How are we (our SLC) going to grow from this experience?

Could communication during SLC’s be improved by sticking to set protocols?

Should sharing of positive experiences we have had here during our school experience be more public and verbal rather than just share electronically at the end of the week? Should more attention be paid to the “Nay Sayers” and steps taken to help these struggling colleagues?

I imagine loosing a tooth for a child is a traumatic experience. A child never thinks they will not have the teeth they have come to depend on, the teeth that aided in nourishment through infancy and their toddler years. When I tooth falls out there is a hole left behind, there is some pain and there may even be some blood. It is definitely awkward. In time the tooth is replaced and new teeth emerge to fulfill the functions of the missing dental teammates.

I look foward to meeting the new teachers that will fill the holes on our teams.

My mom always said, “Take care of your teeth and they will take care of you.” I hope we as a community remember proper dental care and care for eachother.

Total Teachers can only exist in Total Schools.

P.S. Aren’t you glad I did not extend the metaphor any further and start talking about pulling teeth, oral surgery, caps, or braces? and what about those gold covered teeth with stars or dollar signs?