The Pyrenees---Southern France

The Pyrenees---Southern France

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Just Back Off and Let Us Teach

       Just Back Off and Let Us Teach came to me at the perfect time. For me, this school year was a tough one. Twenty-seven students. A brand-new state test that was taken on computers. Increased pressure when it came to achievement. As I finished boxing up my classroom (so the floors could be cleaned and waxed) I was able to take a breath, read Caroline Alexander Lewis' book and get rejuvenated.

     Lewis, a former high school teacher and principal, believes that super teachers are superheroes. Of course, there are lazy teachers. There are also uncaring and uninterested teaches who wreak havoc on who-knows-how-many students every year. Those educators give all the other teachers a bad name. Effective teachers, according to Lewis, have

C--communication skills
O--organizational abilities

     Caroline Lewis and I agree--enthusiasm is the one thing that can't really be taught... and when teachers are enthusiastic and have passion for their work, they are soaring around Superman.

     Unfortunately, teachers are leaving the profession at an alarming rate. It's a brutally exhausting job. We frequently get chewed up by parents, but we can't bite back. We sometimes go 3 or 4 hours--every day--without having the chance to go to the bathroom. Some of us have 30 minutes to walk a class down the hall to the cafeteria, drop them off (making sure they are supervised), eat our own lunch, and use the bathroom. (And that's assuming there were no problems during the trek down the hall.) We spend many hours at home in the evening and on the weekends grading papers and planning lessons. I love my job. It's the best profession in the world. But if something is not done, there'll be a severe shortage of teachers.

       Lewis spends about half of the book discussing what makes an effective teacher, using the SCOPE acronym. She then covers some of the things that can be done to validate and retain teachers.

       Before the book even begins, Lewis sets the tone with a quote by William Butler Yeats. It says it all: Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire." 

       As Jose Feliciano sang, "Come on baby, light my fire." My fire is lit... don't let it get extinguished.

About Caroline Lewis:
After spending 22 years as a science teacher and school principal, Caroline Lewis became director of education for Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden and developed the award-winning Fairchild Challenge to engage students in environmental issues. As founder and CEO of The CLEO Institute, she applies her educational leadership skills to promote solution-oriented approaches to address climate disruptions. A native of Trinidad, she earned an MS in Educational Leadership in 1999 and is committed to elevating and celebrating the teaching profession.

Visit the author online:

About the Book:
If America wants to reform public education and regain its status in the world, it must start valuing teachers and stop the present policy of commissioning study after study and revising measurement tests every few years. That assertion is made by author Caroline Lewis, who outlines reform in her new book Just Back Off and Let Us Teach: A Book for Effective Teachers and Those Who Champion Them. Both descriptive and motivational, Lewis' book defines five skills distinctive of effective teachers called SCOPE (Sensitivity, Communication, Organization, Professionalism, and Enthusiasm) Skills. Lewis encourages all teachers to self-examine and grade themselves on their own effectiveness using SCOPE Scores.

Monday, June 8, 2015

If Your Lips Are Movin'... Then You're Lyin'

          It's been a dry spell when it comes to some of my friends (and me) and Chicken Soup. Story call-outs are posted, we submit, and then we find out the book is coming out in a month or two and we still haven't gotten our acceptance email.

        They must be running late with letting everyone know their story's been chosen. But then the book hits the bookstores and we still haven't heard... and we resign ourselves that yet another book has rejected more of our stories.

        At our last writing critique meeting, the WWWPs were talking about it. I didn't say a thing because I didn't want to jinx it, but I'd heard a month or so earlier that one of my stories had made it through part of the acceptance process. Two days after our WWWP meeting, I got the final A-okay. My story, On a Mission, will be included in an upcoming Chicken Soup anthology.

This book will be on sale beginning on August 18.

My story is about a bunch of lies I told in order to get a dog rescued. I didn't go as far as steal the dog
(which I did once, or at least was an accomplice in stealing an abused beagle) but I did tell some tall tails tales. The golden retriever went from a horrible home to a wonderful home, due to the lies I concocted.

When have you lied for a noble cause? When have you used lying for good (instead of evil)? When you "stretched the truth," did it ever come back to bite you in the rear end?

Truth-transforming minds want to know.