So often I wake with worry.
I worry about the choices we are making in response to a push for higher performance on standardized tests.
I worry that in some cases we are narrowing the lives of children rather than broadening them.
I worry that we are too often constraining the innovation of teachers instead of encouraging it.
I worry that, with the best of intentions, we’ve insisted on things that have become a ceiling rather than a launch pad.
I worry about the ways teachers are more and more limited every year in what they have the time and permission to do in their classrooms.
I worry that in too many classrooms time is spent in the wrong ways, pushing the most important activities to the borders because they frighten us with their messiness.
I worry that we spend our financial resources in foolish ways, being hoodwinked and lulled into a false sense of security as we buy into expensive quick-fix solutions.
I worry that vendors prey on our exhaustion, confusion and worry; selling us boxes and boxes of promises that will never come true.
I worry that there is not enough play in the lives of our children.
I worry that there is not enough choice in the lives of either our children or their teachers.
I worry that children’s curiosity and wonder have come to be viewed as frivolity reserved for occasional or special projects, rather than being welcomed as vital learning resources all day long.
I worry that too many years of top-down improvement-by-punishment thinking has resulted in less risk-taking and curiosity in our schools.
I worry that we will continue to close our eyes to simple, but unsexy solutions – like high volume reading and writing, like choice, and like conversation – in lieu of fancy scripts and prescriptions created by people who’ve never met our children.
I worry that we will continue to confuse teaching comprehension with testing comprehension, having kids practice bubbling answers and filling in blanks instead of giving them opportunities for deep and meaningful conversations with each other.
I worry that reading is too often viewed as something we must “make students do” and that they must “prove they have done”rather than being seen as a gift we give through acts of reading love.
I worry that too many of us have lost sight of why we choose the profession in the first place.
I worry that we’ve forgotten to listen to our hearts.
Yes, so often I wake with worry.
But then I remember we are not helpless.
It is not too late.
We can start fresh every day.
We can take courageous steps every day.
And, one at a time, our small acts of courage add up.
Our courage and our willingness to collaborate toward a brighter tomorrow. . .
Maybe these are the greatest gifts we can give our children.
Maybe the worry is okay, if it keeps reminding us of what we know and believe.
Maybe the worry can become a voice of reason.
Maybe it is a way of keeping us honest and hungry for a better tomorrow.
What causes you to wake with worry?
Listen to its wise voice.
It may be a call to courage.