Education on the other side of this pandemic has a lot of promise if we think big

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Photo by Nick Gregory (2020 Portland, Oregon)

Instant response temperature checks, a PPE budget, and alternating daily schedules are just a few of the issues facing schools today. It is dizzying to try and keep up with all the different K-12 education plans in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In this real-life game of Frogger, school officials have to be remarkably agile to earn public confidence. Leaders all over the nation, including those I work alongside, are making critical decisions with tight deadlines. …


My house from 9:49 am — 9:54 am today.

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When things don’t go as planned, Photo by Nick Gregory

As I sit here typing this story on my phone, I am laughing at what is going down in my kitchen. My wife is fast asleep, and our two children are alternating between bickering and giggling. It’s getting loud, but it quiets for short bursts.

“They’re fine,” I tell myself.

Upon picking up my iPad to read while they eat, I’ve noticed that my son has changed the settings, so everything is in German.

Not up for a stroll through my settings to switch things back to English and also not wanting to let this 11-year old have the satisfaction of winning, I scroll through my photos on my phone instead. …


Pushing through isn’t easy, but the alternative is much worse

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Photo by Nate Neelson on Unsplash

One of the best teachers I know recently told me that she feels depleted and exhausted at school. The work is piling up, she’s tired, and she said the staff had reached their breaking point. She wondered aloud that if she was losing her way as a veteran teacher, how must new hires feel?

Teaching is tricky. A bad stretch in the first semester could be fleeting, or it could spiral beyond winter break. Less experienced teachers are more likely to fall prey to a drawn-out collapse, but experienced teachers are not immune.

I was not completely surprised by my conversation with this respected and talented teacher. In our world, the month leading to Thanksgiving represents the second leg of our marathon. With falling temperatures outside, we show up to school in the dark, leave in the dark and fall into routines. By Halloween, the anticipation and excitement of the new school year can give way to disillusionment and anxiety. Staff meetings seem longer, grading demands ramp up, and parents start checking in more. …


Justice Kavanaugh was at the center of another sexual misconduct conversation, and we barely noticed

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Photo from Unsplash, by Aditya Joshi

US Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh allegedly pulled down his pants at a college party and thrust his penis at Debbie Ramirez more than thirty-five years ago. Her accusation resurfaced last week in the New York Times by reporters Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly, who claimed that seven people corroborated Ramirez’s account of events.

Recall that nearly one year ago, the Senate confirmed Kavanaugh’s appointment to the US Supreme Court, despite allegations that he sexually assaulted a female classmate while both were in high school. …


If you think talking about racism is difficult in the age of Trump, imagine our future if today’s students can’t recognize racism

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Representative Tlaib represents the US Congressional district where this photo was taken. Detroit, Mich. by Nick Gregory

The blow-up last week during Michael Cohen’s public hearing brought racism sharply into focus, and an old trope — the “black friend defense” — was thrust into the spotlight. Teachers should capitalize on the event and help students grasp the complexity of racism. We can start by debunking the myth that a person can’t be racist because they “have a black friend,” keep company with black people or praise a black person.

Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-MD), an African-American serving his thirteenth term in the House, presided over a heated exchange between Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) and Rep. …


How focusing on the finish line creates a negative school culture

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A student left this message in a discreet place in the back of my classroom. I found it in 2015, and I had no idea how long it had been there. It made me think about the learning experiences of my students. Ultimately, I changed my teaching and grading practices, but I left the message. Free the Soul, by Nick Gregory.

Low expectations and negativity are two reasons why K-12 schools fail to excel. Educators scramble for resources and adapt to challenges, but we’re not always honest about the other factors that hold our schools back and contribute to low morale.

By focusing on worst-case scenarios where hobbling to the finish line is viewed as a win, too many schools unwittingly fall into survival mode. Unfortunately, influential teachers and school leaders inadvertently contribute to the dismay felt in their schools by supporting the narrative that “surviving” is the best we can do.

While an overwhelming majority of educators are committed to making schools better, schools in survival mode encourage educators to push systemic problems aside and focus on band-aid solutions. Meaningful collaboration, increasing leadership capacity and developing creative solutions to problems is impossible in survival mode. …

About

Nick Gregory

Fan of ideas, bold action & learning from failure. Family man. Fierce advocate for education. Teacher & Ed. Leader. (Ideas all mine, not repping my employer.)

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