Find the good and praise it.
A presidential inauguration is an inevitable clamor (and clash) of ideas and ideals. Amidst the din of praise and critique, the six words of this Alex Haley quote became my Anchor: “Find the good and praise it.” For me, it served as a reminder of the resonance of simplicity.
If you want to be heard in the 21st century, you better get with the pithy. The result of this trend is the emergence of communication forms like three minute fiction, elevator pitches, post card biographies, post secrets, blogs, micro-blogs, vlogs, tweets, tumblers, and undoubtedly other diminutive genres born yesterday for which I have yet to receive the birth announcement. “A Beautiful baby blog! Mom is doing great.”
You might think that as a teacher (who is endlessly assigning and grading elongated and archaic essays) I might resent this contraction of language. You would be wrong. I have sitting on my desk at work, my kitchen table, my bedside table, my basement bookshelves COUNTLESS education books I’ve been intending to read for a week, a month, a decade. I’ve come to a realization, though. If you really want to write for a teacher, you need three things:
- Bullet points
- Bolded headings
Otherwise we begin to suspect it’s just another educational Ponzi scheme created to support your PhD or political pipe dreams.
Find the truth and say it.
So on Monday as I listened to each speaker’s reflection on the literal and figurative architecture of democracy, I began to think about the foundation of my teaching practice. I asked my educational family, my “EDvengers” to "Find the truth and say it." I asked if they could distill their educational philosophies and realities into six words. Here are their truths:
- “I was born a student, teacher.” —Megan (Author, Former AP Environmental Science)
- “Teaching makes me smile (and cringe).” - Ashley (AP English Lit)
- "Fascinated with creating creative fascinated kids." – Brad (AP Psychology)
- “For the love of my students.” —Kristen (Guidance Counselor)
- “Overly Optimistic, ultimately underwhelmed. Rinse. Repeat.” –Sarah (Teacher Mentor)
- “Always working yet never ever _________” (fill in the blank with any of the following ...finished, satisfied, thanked, ready, organized, pleased) - Courtney (Middle School Assistant Principal)
- “Emotional impact always trumps test scores.” OR “Teachers should design anxiety medication (yo).” OR "If teachers scream in woods, raises?” - Andy (AP Comparative Government)
- "The kids, happy. The politics, frustrating." Annie (English Teacher and Community College Professor)
Evident in the EDvengers is the same ambivalence perhaps YOU feel about our political and/or public education systems. Yet also evident is the humor and hope that sustains us. The paradox is, it takes both the euphoria and the fury to transform a nation and an education.
So here’s my blended six word memoir…
“Educational/Political transformation is within us all.”
I invite you to share yours. Find the good and praise it. Find your truth and share it.
Barbara Dziedzic is the lead teacher for Arundel High School's Community Development and Global Citizenship Signature Program.