Great Teaching Costs Little… Just Everything You Have

When you write about teaching, it changes you. You examine yourself and align with what you need to be doing. Writing about teaching changes your own practice because you can't say something without examining if you do it yourself.

Two weeks a go on a Sunday night I was writing my first post for Edutopia. It was about 15 ways that we could teach all kids to code (even without a computer.) I was writing and really feeling the post about how we really don't have an excuse for not doing the Hour of Code… then it hit me… I was only reaching the ninth and tenth graders. That was it. It wasn't enough.

An Awesome Curriculum Director is one who acts

So, on Monday morning before homeroom, I met my curriculum director in the parking lot as she unloaded her car and walked with her to her office. I just blurted out,

“I need you to help me not be a hypocrite. I realized that we can and should teach every child in our elementary school some basic principles of coding and we can do it if I have my ninth and tenth graders prepare lesson plans and rotate them through for three days.”

Betty listened as I talked about the objectives, the sites we'd use, and the method for doing it. (She always listens and considers everything deeply – that is what makes her an awesome curriculum director. We are taking steps to add a new lab for the kids – it just isn't ready this year.)

Let's make it happen

Then, she said, let's make it happen. That day, she emailed teachers, by Wednesday she had a schedule and I had my students planning their lessons. I was out Friday and Monday but when I returned Tuesday they “practiced” their lessons for the kids and Wednesday we started our Hour(s) of Code.

Now, it is Sunday again — two weeks and 12 hours of Code later. (As my 9th and 10th graders said, it was really an extra 2 hours of code per class because they took several days of prep time.) So, let's say — 20 hours of code and I realize something.

We got great feedback from parents and the kids were abuzz. They were excited and loved it. My students were amazing. It was exhausting having almost 40 kids in a room made for 22. But it was awesome. Exhausting but awesome.

The Greatest Classroom Experiences Cost Nothing but Cost you Everything

That is when I realized it — the greatest things are those that take your energy and time.

They often don't cost you any money but they actually cost you everything – they cost your deep energy reserves and all you are and that, my friends is so much. But, I'm so glad we did it. My students and I partnered to do something awesome that I plan for us to do again. It was hard and tiring but it was epic.

That is the thing about writing about teaching. Be careful what you advise others to do because unless you're willing to DO it yourself with your students and give the heart and energy required – those are just words.

Because truly great things in the classroom cost little but they cost you everything. There are those who say that the kids should be the ones exhausted at the end of the day, not just the teachers. But truly, I think it is both of us who should be exhausted because when I'm epic, truly epic, it does take my energy reserves. I do have to put myself out there. I'm on my feet working the classroom and working as part of a team with my students.

Epic teaching takes everything you've got… but it gives you more back than you could ever give.


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