Today after work I leave for NYC for a girls' weekend. Not the kind you might imagine - this one is all about teaching and writing. The highlight of this trip will be going to Teacher's College to hear the wonderful Lucy Calkins talk about all that's new in literacy and education. She is my guru, my mentor, and I follow her like a tween follows Taylor Swift. Her 'music' though is all about school. Do you remember loving school as a child? That wonderful kindergarten or first grade teacher who made you feel like a rock star for writing your name. The teacher who let you lead the class down the hallway and you felt like the king of the world. Yesterday in a kindergarten class a little boy was reading to me and when he came to the word 'the', he said, "Hey, wait, that's the word my teacher been teaching me! That's the word she been teaching!" Well, when I hear Lucy Calkins speak, she still has that same enthusiasm for learning and it's contagious. Every word she uses is intentional, every act of teaching is driven by the power of joy for learning.
But I have to confess that this enthusiasm is just about gone when I talk about my own children's classrooms. There is a drought of joy in education right now, especially when talking about test scores. Then throw in the teachers and the salaries and the unions and you can have a really hard time finding anything redeemable about education, let alone joy. I wonder what will happen with our schools. Will we come out on the other end with a whole new education system, driven by passion for learning and not test numbers. If we infused the same energy talking about what's not working into what works, we'd have sure success with learners and that would show in our students' scores. The fact that children find joy in recognizing the word 'the' is far more important than the test scores in creating lifelong learners.
So my weekend is all about school and finding the love again. I can't wait to hear what Lucy has to say. And I'm making a new commitment not to lose the joy that inspired me to be a teacher in the first place. I think that will be a far better way to help my own children become lifelong learners, too.