It's been too long since I last posted. Not on purpose. I flew out to Long Beach directly after the Denver conference and jumped right in with the Freedom Writers Foundation. Tuesday, we wrapped up the July Freedom Writers Teacher Institute.
Twenty-four teachers ventured to Long Beach, CA for 5 days of truly empowering collaboration. I was fortunate enough to be part of June's Institute as well. Thus far, I've had the chance to meet each of the teachers going through the program including the frenetic bunch that with whom I went through.
Something is truly energizing about bonding with 20-some people with the same heart for kids.
The ties are truly amazing.
When I returned to Sarasota last October from my turn at the Institute, my friends and colleagues were eager to hear about my trip. The interest was strong and the questions the same, "So, what was it like?" "What did you guys do out there?" "What was Erin like?" even "Was it fantastic?"
I stumbled around like a zombie when I returned home. I was able to chalk it up to jetlag, but it was something more than that.
Every once in a while, I need to be reminded of why I'm a teacher, of the sense of purpose I that motivated me to enter the profession.
As it turns out, I didn't become a teacher to help students incorporate technology in their learning. I don't know that I even became a teacher to give kids the chance to work and think collaboratively. Hard as it is to believe, it wasn't to administer standardized tests or bring up flagging scores.
It actually all comes down to showing up everyday to show kids they have they have power, choices, ability and promise when they think that they do not.
I realize the details of the process are more intricate and the path much more winding than the idealism of my purpose appears to acknowledge, but I've got to remember that's where I'm rooted.
I had a chance during this last session to meet teachers who are truly amazing in their love and passion for helping their kids. Time and again, though, I heard these same teachers say they were unworthy or not up to snuff.
We cannot allow for the perpetuation of a system that takes its most dedicated workers and breaks them and makes them feel they are less than.
It's a big system, widely fractured. Still, when the last FWTI is complete, 150 teachers will have been trained and connected, creating a nationwide network of support and activism.
Many students have walked through my classroom door bruised or broken by what life has thrown at them. Though their maturity may mask and delay the effects, the same is happening to teachers.
Often, when we speak of teacher attrition, it is in reference to the difficulty of replacing them with new hires. Our focus must be on retention. How do you keep a great teacher in the classroom?