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First Challenges

By Betsy Rogers — March 03, 2005 2 min read
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In a comment to a recent post, I was asked “What assumptions about how schools succeed made you believe that you could make a difference in a “failing” school? My answer is the same reply I a gave a very savvy third grade boy at my school who asked me, “Why are you at our school?” I told him I fell in love with your school when I first visited two years ago and I want to help your school be the very best it can be because you deserve the best. I believed my eighteen years of experience in an award winning Title I school along with two years of traveling across my state and our country visiting schools and meeting teachers had given me a wealth of knowledge I wanted to share. In addition, much to my surprise, I was able to bring to the school over $70,000 in programs and materials that I felt could improve instruction. Plus, my college, Samford University, had agreed to form a partnership with the school to aide and assist in a variety of ways. In essence, I thought I could bring help to this school.

The first week of school brought many surprises. In talking to the teachers, I was told they had tried to have a morning routine for starting the day, but it had never lasted. The teachers agreed they would like for a student to lead the pledge and they shared with me a Brighton Bear Code that had been written for the school. It was decided this would be done on the intercom every morning. Fourth grade students immediately began practicing since they would be the first to lead this morning exercise. I amazed how quickly our children learned all of words to the pledge and Bear Code. My former school had a very high tech television studio with an outstanding student led morning show. At Brighton, I hold the intercom button every morning while the students go though the program with hopes that someday we will have the technology to have a TV program. This morning ritual has become quite popular with the students and by the end of the year almost every child in the school will have the chance to lead this school exercise. The teachers also appear to really like this part of the day. After the first week, a teacher said to me, “This is like a real school.”

The other morning routine I had hoped to establish was improving our bus duty and starting school on time.This has not been so successful. In the past, students sat in the lunchroom after they ate breakfast. I was determined the students would read silently at this time. I brought in crates of books and assigned seats. One of the veteran teachers told me this would not work. She also told me starting school on time would not happen. After several weeks of fighting the noise of this crowded lunchroom, I went to this veteran teacher and I told her I was waving the white flag, she was right about reading in the lunchroom. With teacher input, a new schedule was made to have the students sit outside their rooms and the teacher on duty reads aloud to the children. I stay in the the lunchroom and handle breakfast duty. Currently, in the lunchroom we are working on our math facts and we watch Multiplication Rock every morning with multiplication fact cards covering the lunchroom walls. School is starting on time and I am learning many valuable lessons about teacher leadership.

I appreciate your comments and encourage your continued input and questions.

The opinions expressed in Teacher of the Year are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

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