Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Because it's 4th of July...

1. With freedom comes great sacrifice. 
April's chilling events at the Boston Marathon reminded all of us of the consequences to the freedoms we enjoy in this great country. Tomorrow is the 4th of July and we will celebrate our nations 237th birthday. America was founded on principles of freedom, opportunity, and eventually, equality for all persons. The suspects in the Boston Bombing were allowed to enter this country and had the opportunity to build decent lives for themselves. They were aided by over $100,000 of government assistance through public housing and food stamps. They used internet, cell phones and email. They traveled, went to school, and hung out with friends. These daily tasks involve basic liberties that we take for granted. And while it may have been these very liberties that allowed the Tsarnaev brothers to plan and execute the bombing, we cannot overlook how sacred our freedoms truly are. 4th of July is an opportunity to reflect on how lucky we are to have these freedoms.

2. Our political bias probably doesn't belong in the classroom.

Recently, I participated in the American Dreams Project that pulled together 15 educators from seven different suburban schools. For three weeks, we read new scholarly works in history, debated their uses in the classroom, and created ready-made lessons to share and implement next school year. We discussed how different authors speak with a bias and how we present this information to students. Most teachers agree that they tend to leave their own political thoughts aside when presenting history. Yet, we all make difficult decisions on text sets and primary sources to present the content. Unfortunately, some teachers inject their own political agendas on their very impressionable students. I think as professionals its important that we try to avoid any bias in our presentation and allow our students to do their own thinking. Using sources from both sides of the political spectrum is fair to our students and helps to create an environment of inquiry. This process is and always will be more important that our "agendas."

3. Be thankful for what you do have, and you will end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don't have, you will never have enough. 

I think this phrase is both timely and appropriate for educators in the 21st century. Our job descriptions are constantly changing, our students are changing, our instruction is changing, and our profession is changing. I think its easy to want more out of our profession. New teachers want to teach better classes. Veteran teachers want a better schedule. All teachers want the best students and parents. Aspiring administrators want that big job promotion. Administrators want more faculty buy-in. This profession has seen its share of perks taken away at national, state, and district levels- which naturally leaves us all wanting more. But if our focus is always on wanting something we don't have or lamenting what we used to have, we will all be living unfulfilled careers. If we shift our focus to the positive- if we stop to think about the alternatives- if we truly believe we are exactly in the right place, eventually, we will end up having more. That's preachy, but I think it gives us purpose.

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