Taking Work Home

From Maia's Together Teacher blog:

Like many of us, Katie described her first year of teaching as a whirlwind of planning, instruction, grading, responding to behavior challenges and conquering classroom management issues. She spent her prep periods dealing with student issues that arose throughout the day. It should come as no surprise that Katie was taking a massive amount of work home each night.

Like I said before, sound familiar?

Katie had no problem with working at home, but she also knew she would need more discipline to remain in the teaching profession (and alive!). Katie used the summer between her first and second years to reflect and plan thoughtful changes. She shared the following revelation with me:

I needed to operate with the same values with which I train my students. Time is valuable, no matter who you are, and it keeps on ticking. I really care about my students, but that doesn’t mean that all of my free time can go to solving student issues.

Some thoughts:

1. Maia wrote a book on how teachers can get organized. It is great. She runs workshops for schools, too. Those are great. I'll repeat my blurb:

“If you’re trying to be a rock-star teacher, you’re probably overwhelmed. So. Much. To. Do. The Together Teacher is the only tome that deals with your uber-busy workplace reality. Maia Heyck-Merlin’s strategies aren’t just good, they’re grrreat. Our teachers adore Maia and her methods.”

2. Maia hails from Achievement First. She has created what the intellectuals like to call "intellectual property."

To zoom out for a second, let's ponder what "intellectual property" has flowed out of the handful of the top-performing charter schools.

In every case I'm aware of, it's intensely practical stuff. No intellectual airs. Not highfalutin. "How to" stuff.

Paul Bambrick-Santoyo of North Star -- practical ideas for school leaders, including how to use data.

Doug Lemov of Uncommon, nee PacRim -- practical teacher moves to create a sense of urgency and focus. The famous one is Doug McCurry, also of Achievement First, showing how to pass out papers efficiently. Check out the new field guide.

I'm not sure of which individual here, but I'll credit Richard Barth -- KIPP creating a practical way to transparently share school data, including college success rates. Seems straightforward. But to my knowledge, nobody has ever done it with such transparency or clarity.

Charters are supposed to be labs of innovation.

Sometimes the "innovation" isn't so innovative. Just specifically describing "stuff" that help put teachers or leaders in a position to succeed, stuff that is often part of skilled teacher lore.

There's a willingness of these outlier charters to try -- howsoever imperfectly -- to solve the basic real life challenges of teachers, 1 by 1 by 1. It is okay for intellectual property to be not particularly intellectual. In fact, this seems to be -- based on sales figures -- what many educators want.

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