And what it takes to get teachers to stay

Photo by Michael Jasmund on Unsplash

Recently, I saw a teacher’s post on Facebook that she was leaving. Oh no, not another great one, I thought to myself. And that’s what prompted a new question that I posed to my teacher-friends:

Teacher-friends, if you are seriously considering leaving teaching at the end of this school year, will you send me a PM and tell me what factors led to your decision? And for everyone: What are some things that are making you stay at your job next year? What makes it worthwhile to you, to continue?

Seeing teachers choose to move on is nothing new. This…


A Rumination on Grief

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A robin’s nest tumbled to the ground last spring. It had been raining for days, in a way that it never rains out west. For days, the baby robins had been enduring the cold, relentless rain as their parents shepherded worms to their hungry beaks. The parents flew back and forth like the bob of a pendulum from the yard up to the support beams under the deck, where the baby birds were nestled. Back and forth they flew as the cold rain came down at a slant, hard drops drumming on the windows. Then the rain fell perpendicular from…


Tips from teachers to help you get the job you want.

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It’s funny how 30 minutes can determine your life’s path for years to come. But that’s the power of the interview: you have 30 minutes with a committee to answer their questions, and based on how you answer, you will either be selected as the candidate they want, or you will get a “thank you for your time.”

Most people dread interviews the way they dread going to a repeat dentist visit to have a cavity drilled. But instead of approaching the interview with fear and trepidation, try to think of each interview as a learning experience; you can grow…


This must change. This is not the way to create readers.

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The traditional way of using books in a class is this: the teacher chooses a book and assigns it to all students. Students read a certain number of pages per night and then take reading check quizzes when they arrive back in class in a day or two. At the end of the book, some sort of essay, test, or project is assigned. And the truth is, probably only a quarter of students actually read the whole book, maybe a few more, if you’re lucky.

This must change. This is not the way to create readers.

Even at the college…


Advice from the experts

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There’s a bunch of things you don’t go into teaching for: the barrage of emails that bark for replies, grading and entering grades, hallway or bus loop duty, chaperoning a school function in the evening, and of course — one of the worst: proctoring. But there’s one thing that is considered worst of the worst for most teachers because it hits you where it hurts: the angry-parent-nasty-gram — the email or voicemail message that says, “Teacher, you suck,” and then goes on to tell you exactly what you suck at and how badly, in their opinion.

I got one of…


Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash

Many parents, administrators, and teachers have been quick to write off remote learning, hoping to get back to “normal” as soon as possible.

But that hasn’t been the experience of all teachers. For some, the experience of teaching remotely has been rewarding, engaging, and stimulating — for them and for their students.

“There’s a lot of talk out there that students can’t learn remotely. And it’s false.” — Mike, a 100% remote teacher in his sixth year

With all of the flak that remote learning has gotten, I wondered: Have teachers received adequate training or been able to share and…


Back to School: Is the Time Right to Return to 100% In-Person?

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Is now the right time to open schools at the secondary level? I didn’t know how to feel about it. So I decided to ask the experts — the ones who would know best. I decided to ask a handful of my teacher-mom friends, some of the smartest women I know.

Meet Annie, Beth, Carrie, Donna, Ellie, and Frances. Each woman is (or has been) an educator in a public school — their total experience combined adds up to 109 years in schools. Each one is a mom of school-aged children. Each one is a smart, thoughtful, caring, well-educated woman…


Photo by Ocean Ng on Unsplash

Recently, a group of teachers at Mandalay Middle, a school located in the suburbs of Denver, CO, declared that they would only work contract hours. It was a form of protest, meant to highlight the lack of teacher say in decision-making by higher ups on issues like working conditions under COVID-19 and in support of bargaining.

Pictures on Facebook showed a group of 15–20 teachers standing outside of the school entrance, waiting in the cold for the official start of the school day, before heading inside.

But it begs the question: How is working only the hours you are being…


Let’s Not Lose Time to Standardized Testing

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As a teacher, my motto has always been this: I want school to be better for them than it was for me. And so as I strove to design learning in my classroom, starting with determining which skills are absolutely necessary for students to master in a given school year, I created learning experiences that had value — every activity, every reading, every discussion, every test or quiz — had a purpose.

Here we are in February of 2021, and the annual season of state standardized testing is looming. These tests, designed, it would seem, to gauge if our instruction…


Let’s stop wasting our precious money and time with students on standardized testing

Photo by Eder Pozo Pérez on Unsplash

It’s that time of year again in my children’s school district when parents must make their choice as to which schools to attend. I am a strong advocate for neighborhood public schools, and yet, this year my thoughts have strayed somewhat, musing on other options for my kids.

Why, you might ask? It’s not because of the teachers or the administration. It’s hardly because of ugly debate that continues to rage between in-person, hybrid, and remote options. …

Cindy Shapiro

Cindy Shapiro is long-time teacher living in Colorado. As founder of Teacher Says, a podcast and website (TeacherSays.org) she aims to elevate teachers’ voices.

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