Saturday, August 20, 2016

Teacher Week

It was a week of laughs, learning, and getting to know some amazing educators--Teacher week. Thanks to school parents, we even ate better than most of us had eaten all month. Each day after three hours of classes, we walked into the cafeteria to see a mirage that was real: a table laden with fruit, salads, and lunch staples of sandwiches, lentils and soups. Even a table filled with desserts.

Each morning began with an on-time drawing. Gift cards for book stores and restaurants. Friday morning, I rushed out of the house to be on time; I hadn't won anything yet, but this day I had a feeling. Sure enough: $25 for the local Israeli restaurant.

A presentation and discussion on the reasons for a liberal arts or classical education reminded us of our main mission: teach critical thinking skills and provide opportunities for students to think critically so when they enter the world they will have the skills to analyze and discern between truth and error.

I was asked to teach writing. I focused on writing to discover (!!) and encouraged teachers to think of writing as a learning skill and not an end product. A PE teacher's final would never require a student to do 200 push ups without ever having done a push up in the preceding weeks. Teachers of other disciplines tend to teach a unit then require a paper at the end-- equivalent to 200 pushups with no training. The challenge for teachers is to use the paper to explore the unit's learning so the students are building knowledge and understanding, gaining in strength, doing 20 pushups on day one, 40 on day two, etc.

We talked about accreditation, the mission of our school, we even had a book club discussion from our summer read. And then it all crashed...

Friday morning topics were sexual harassment, defense and protocol in case of a school invasion, and suicide prevention. At any point in the three hours, I felt I could cry...just cry. The realities, the evils, the possibilities, had entered into the sacred ground of teaching and learning.