A Celebration of Teachers

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Happy Holidays! MiddleWeb celebrates teachers by sharing insights into the teaching life, offered by our bloggers and guest writers in some favorite posts. We begin with a perfect gift book . . .

A joyful highpoint came earlier in the year with the publication of Teaching with Heart: Poetry that Speaks to the Courage to Teach. Writing at MiddleWeb, the book’s editors Sam Intrator and Megan Scribner explain that “a diverse group of 90 teachers describe the complex of emotions and experiences of the teaching life – joy, outrage, heartbreak, hope, commitment and dedication.”

“Each heartfelt commentary is paired with a cherished poem selected by the teacher. The contributors represent a broad array of educators: K-12 teachers, principals, superintendents, college professors, as well as many non-traditional teachers. They range from first year teachers to mid-career veterans to those who have retired after decades in the classroom. They come from inner-city, suburban, charter and private schools.”

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Food for the teacher’s soul

In addition to the four teachers featured in our guest article (a person new to teaching, two veterans, and a school principal), our Working Draft blogger Kevin Hodgson highlighted other contributors to Teaching with Heart in his post  “Poems To Sustain Our Teaching Hearts.” Kevin, himself a participant in the project, mentions teacher essays on poems by Richard Wilbur, Mary Oliver, John Daniel and Tupak Shakur. Kevin’s selection is Taylor Mali’s “What Teachers Make,” a powerful spoken poem.

kevin-hodgsonQuoting Kevin: “This collection of short essays by educators (including myself) about poems that sustain us as teachers during the difficult times of education reform, doubts about our effectiveness, care about that student who seems lost in life, and our own survival through the school year is like food for the soul.”

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A unique window into the imagination

ariel-sacks-120In her MiddleWeb review of Teaching with Heart, Poetry, Reflections Speak to the Courage to Teach, author and middle school educator Ariel Sacks comments: “The experience of reading through this book is unique. The different way that each teacher connects with his or her chosen poem is one of the most interesting elements of Teaching with Heart. Sometimes the teacher makes an explicit connection to the poem, describing how it offers inspiration or wisdom, or connects to a specific aspect of teaching; other times the poem echoes a feeling or relationship in the prose piece, and it is up to the reader to draw the connection. This variety of approaches keeps each entry fresh. What we end up with is a wholly unique window into the heart, imagination, and real work of each teacher.”

Find a list of each teacher/poem pair and more on this page at the Center for Courage and Renewal.

Co-teachers and the people surrounding them

Our Two Teachers in the Room blogger Elizabeth Stein and her former co-blogger Laurie Wasserman celebrate teachers, administrators, students and families in their 2012 post, Why Co-Teachers Are Thankful. Along the way, they mention teachers who are eager to learn, general ed students who are welcoming to special ed students, and special ed students who are sensitive to others’ needs.

The winning quirks of STEM teachers

tools-of-the-trade-166Anne Jolly, MiddleWeb’s STEM by Design blogger, finds both joy and challenge in You Might Be a STEM Teacher…, identifying teachers as potential STEM educators if “Your students clap when you announce they have a problem….Your students know it’s okay to fail…. You use assessments in weird ways….You shop for school supplies in your local hardware store”….and much more.

The power to change lives

In her Kids on the Cusp blog here at MiddleWeb, Mary Tarashuk shares Reminders of Why I Teach. Her recollections of notes from parents and students, some years old, are highlighted by one shy youngster’s comments and visits as she grows up, still aware of Mary’s encouraging her all the way back in fourth grade.

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Even after decades out of the classroom, I recall students whose lives I touched and who changed me. Please use the comments section to share your memories which somehow seem most vivid during the holidays.

Susan Curtis

Susan Curtis is co-editor of MiddleWeb.com. In a long career, she has taught middle grades students, worked in human services, edited a variety of publications and wrangled the reference desk in libraries.

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