Teacher’s Guide to a New Year’s Revolution

Being an overview of the latest title from TWP, soon to be on bookshelves across the country

The day before returning to school in January, most public school teachers A) question their sanity, B) stock up on gin, C) update the resume, or D) start planning the revolution. Resolutions are for failures and motivational speakers.

Step One in the revolution: Get Oprah on board.

With her new network just starting up, Oprah will need some help with her programming. Teachers, unite! Infiltrate the ranks from every angle—writing, editing, stuntwork (those of you from the South, chef up and cook the chick some first-rate biscuits and gravy), etc. With an all-out effort, we can turn OWN into TOW (Teaching Oprah Winfrey). When she sees how good we are, she will buy us all new cars AND abolish the national education department. She has that kind of power, you know.

Step Two: Pimp out the principal.

Band together within your school and find avenues for pimping out your principal to keep him out of the building as much as possible. Arrange for speaking engagements at local daycares and Wal-Mart meetings, at Toastmasters’ events and mall beauty pageants. Put on your feathered purple hat and bell bottoms and get to work selling the man (or in the rare case—the woman), and enjoy the rewards of not having to hear his pointless stories or rambling voice on the intercom. Eventually, you will become a teacher-led school, capitalizing on virtues, not VICES.

Step Three: Overload Outlook.

Encourage teachers to send mass emails to everyone in the district and to anyone else in their address book. These emails should detail good news from the classroom about your students’ accomplishments and learning, all of the things that admin never asks about or notices. Because of the positive message in the emails, sabotage cannot be proven. After Outlook blows up when everyone’s mailboxes become full, you will no longer need to read routine emails from the superintendent with the blanket comment of “You are all doing so much good for our kids,” thrown in at the end of a message that admonishes without evidence or specific reference every teacher in the district.

Step Four: Hold a real faculty meeting.

Arrange a faculty meeting and begin with some positive statements and then ask the superintendent and principal to speak before any faculty members do. Then, explain a specific agenda and actually follow it. Stop every five minutes and ask for input from the superintendent and principal. Calmly ask for evidence for any generalizations made by either faculty or administration. Have someone take notes and after the meeting, type the notes and send them to everyone, along with a request for more input. End on a positive note and a plan for the next meeting.

 Step Five: Kittens

 If the revolution is not happening, bring in kittens. One per teacher. The local animal shelter will have plenty of them. A warm and forgiving kitten in your arms gives you the strength to continue the fight for real change in your school, which you know means more time for reflection and absorption of ideas, positive feedback for everyone, collaboration, non-traditional units and lessons, and an innovative school schedule. But let’s not dwell on those unattainable practices, right, kitty? Meow.

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7 Comments

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7 responses to “Teacher’s Guide to a New Year’s Revolution

  1. As a professor, I can’t imagine what it is like to teach in any state, which is all states, that dictates what you teach, how and when you teach it, and what the learning outcomes of that teaching should be, or–your fired. I thank Teachers of America for saving my ass time and time again with lesson plans and advice that have lasted throughout my life. I dropped out of school in the seventh grade, but it was quality and quantity of learning I accomplished that allowed me to pass my GED and SAT on the first try at 17; and it was the advice of teachers like Dr. Janice Bowden that I followed in my late 30s, which guided me to a PhD at age 46. Thanks Teachers of America for all you do, for the bullshit you tolerate from administrators, parents, and students, for the way you perform without either appropriate funding, or appropriate appropriation of that funding, and most of all, for never giving up on your students, no matter how old we get. You ARE appreciated. . .

  2. Some great humour and inspiration here. Really enjoyed this post.I like the kittens. I have brought dogs into school on rare occasions and they really do make a good focus! We have a very competent, on the ball , female principal . Female principals are quite common here in Australia. Maybe teachers should get their OWN TV channel!!

  3. teach

    You make my day when I read your newsletters! You are so honest! I’ll try to send you pics od me w/ actual dogs and kittens in the classroom everyday. They got me and the kids through the day every day with a miserable principal. Look at my pic albulm on facebook(andra mcdowell) and you’ll see all kinds of animals with us. I’m now in a much more pleasant school. You should write a book, go on a comedy tour, or have your own talk show! I love you. I have to use my husband’s email, because my district spams anything important, especially anything from NEA.

  4. scifilady

    The revolution is a inspirational idea! But I would suggest kittens OR puppies. (as there are a few souls out there who will only hold onto a puppie)

  5. Roxy

    I have often dreamed about being smothered by puppies in a yellow meadow on my puppy ranch.

  6. duke1959

    The one thing about Oprah that many find offensive is that with all her talk about how to get things done and about relationships. She never had the nerve to walk down the aisle. Life is always easier when you don’t make that kind of commitment.

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