Feed the teachers!

I just finished up a full week of professional development at two campuses. This will be my first year being responsible, at least in part, for two high school campuses in my district.

Thursday morning, teachers at one of the schools were treated to a panel presentation by current and former students, who talked about what their education at our school meant to them.

It was like food for our malnourished souls.

Going into this year, many of us had deflated dreams. Still there, but not gaining altitude. That short presentation had all of us floating out of our chairs, many of us near tears, and renewed.

I presented several sessions to teachers throughout the week on how to bump up the level of technology integration in their classrooms. After the last session at one campus, two teachers came to me and invited me to work with them on really exciting and innovative ideas they had after attending my session.

Sustenance.

Today, I spent the day at the second campus – the one that is new for me. I didn’t know what to expect. This was the first time I had presented on this campus and I don’t know the teachers, so I didn’t know what style of presentation to which they would respond. I still don’t know because my topic was something so unknown that I only had a total of six teachers wander into my classroom throughout the day. I began the last session with the highest attendance of the day – three.

I began my presentation deflated once again. My intent was to just get through the presentation and it would all be behind me. The teachers in this session were excited, engaged, and full of ideas as I went through my presentation, planting seeds in their heads. They took over at times, excitedly talking about ideas, collaborations, and ahas.

Well-fed.

Looking back at this week, I realized just how easy it is to get us (teachers) back on track. Students are what we are here for. Hearing from those students on Thursday morning redirected our focus – away from new district policies, away from new state mandates, away from budget cuts – and back to the reason we are here. The students.

I’m no longer in the classroom, but even I could feel the energy return. I’m a support person and although I don’t often have direct content with the students, I know that what I do is trickled to them through their wonderful teachers.

Today, I was in my classroom – with students (teachers) – who fed me their enthusiasm and revived my own. Even though it was just a few, their enthusiasm sustained me.

One student on Thursday talked about being so stressed about grades at college that she would forget to eat for long periods of time. She said she wished we would have taught her that “it’s just a grade.” She has learned the hard way what is important.

Teachers often forget to “eat”, too.

When that happens, we need to be fed. We need to be taught that “it’s just a policy” or “it’s just a rule” – and what is really important is our students.

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