Conversations Episode 79 – Teachers who are Inspiring

After all the teacher and union bashing this week from Waiting for Superman and Education Nation, Terry Shay reminded us, on twitter, that we have to start supporting each other.  He asked us to name some teachers who inspired us.  We decided to carry on this positive conversation on our show.  


11:31:35 PeggyG : Hi everyone! Great to be here with such
inspiring teachers!! We’ll be talking about YOU today! πŸ™‚

11:31:59 MariaK : Hello NancyvonW – beeing seeing you around

11:32:07 McTeach (Karen) : Still summer out here! πŸ™‚

11:32:16 Maureen : No Sheila today? Just o

11:32:25 MariaK : Stop braggin karen!!

11:32:32 PeggyG : definitely still summer in Phoenix AZ-over 100
degrees yesterday

11:32:34 McTeach (Karen) : Sorry! πŸ™‚

11:32:43 nancyvonw : Hi Maria, it’s been cold and rainy here a lot
lately- when you had warm temps last week we didn’t get above 60 πŸ™

11:32:47 PeggyG : Welcome Terry!! Great to hear from you!

11:32:53 Maureen : It was 32Β°F this morning- sun is nice, but
breezy and cold

11:32:54 PeggyG : and….

11:33:03 PeggyG : Fablevision Lead Ambassador!!!!!

11:33:18 tjshay : Thanks for the welcome!

11:33:56 PeggyG : I couldn’t find you last week and found your
tweet later about Education Nation


11:34:02 Maureen : I watched for a while, but it was irrelevant to

11:34:05 McTeach (Karen) : Nothing of importance? I’m shocked! πŸ˜‰

11:34:08 Lisa Parisi : ETTA is sound

11:34:12 PeggyG : go to ETT-A

11:34:19 Maureen : @cheryl w.. try etta

11:34:33 MariaK : sorry no ustream today – sheila – our ustream
expert is away

11:34:50 ppalermino : Does anyone here teach in a charter school
or a school without a union?

11:35:12 McTeach (Karen) : ppalermino…I do. I teach in a
Catholic school.

11:35:26 Lisa Parisi : Here is my plan to combat negative attacks
leveled at teachers. Think back to a special teacher in your life & fire
off a note of thanks.

11:35:40 Maureen : I said this yesterday on classroom 2.0 show-
but celebrating our successes- like the upcoming K12 online – makes more sense
to me, gives examples of positive change happening

11:35:49 MariaK : @nancyvonw – deerfield fair weekend now – I’m
off to the fair after the show. I’ll get you some fried dough , if you wish.

11:36:51 McTeach (Karen) : Terry is a positive guy!

11:37:05 nancyvonw : mmmmm fried dough.. it was Apple Harvest day
in Dover yesterday- missing all my favorite fall events!

11:37:11 McTeach (Karen) : Yay Maria!!!

11:37:42 nancyvonw : Maria, you’re a rock star πŸ™‚

11:38:05 PeggyG : I 100% agree!!!

11:38:16 Cathy E : Maria is the best! 

11:38:36 liz : I come from a pro-union background but I have to
agree, there has to be a way to protect teachers AND get rid of the bad

11:39:02 liz : they should not be guaranteed a job, the cost is
too high

11:39:58 MariaK : The thing is about getting RID of teachers –
there has to be a process – in some places, because of my beliefs about taching
and learning – I could be the one who someone might think should be gotten
“rid of”. We do need to be careful about what we wish for….

11:40:09 Lisa Parisi : There is a process. 

11:40:11 liz : right, it’s a catch 22

11:40:15 liz : it’s a real quandry!

11:40:18 Lisa Parisi : It just doesn’t get used.

11:40:49 MariaK : I’m really cheap and really old!!!

11:40:55 liz : ha ha

11:41:43 liz : I am a teacher and a mom.  If my children had a bad teacher, I would
want them gone ‘yesterday’…the process takes too long.

11:41:46 MariaK : working 6 days of week, 7:30am – 6:00pm and don’t
take many weeks off in the summer! I’m a bargain!

11:41:54 PeggyG : just like there are good and not so good
teachers, there are good and not so good admins!

11:42:04 liz : yes terry

11:42:05 liz : i agree

11:42:19 liz : we can’t judge something by it’s lowest common

11:42:32 MariaK : Admins have a very tough job – especially in
this NCLB world – lots of pressure!

11:43:58 nancyvonw : it’s just sooo complicated- teachers are soo
busy and have learned defensiveness and that doesn’t encourage risk taking. We
all need to feel loved and valued before taking risks.

11:44:12 liz : My principal insists they would NEVER get rid of an
effective teacher, no matter the cost.  I
have no idea if this is true.  Just a
point of view from my admin.

11:44:22 ppalermino : I think the public wants to pay for
excellent teachers. 

11:44:29 CHERYL W : I agree with Lisa!

11:45:29 PeggyG : a good principal can do the same thing–allow
you to try and take risks and fail and still support you!

11:46:11 Lisa Parisi : Thank you Cheryl.

11:46:32 nancyvonw : there are differences of opinion about what a
“good teacher” is out there.

11:46:38 ppalermino : I don’t have a union and my principal
applauds out of the box thinking. She trusts her staff to do what is best for

11:46:51 liz : yes nancy, that’s the issue, eh?  how do we measure a teacher?

11:46:56 CHERYL W : my county changes Principals so often
(annually) – I wouldn’t know if I have a suppportive principal or not.

11:47:24 McTeach (Karen) : Nicely said, Terry (about principals!)

11:48:29 liz : People I know regard teachers, highly.  I don’t feel that,
Terry…(fortunately).  But I see the
attack on a national level, in the news.

11:48:52 PeggyG :  very interesting article on EdWeek:
Teachers-Must we be Saints or Sinners?

11:49:18 liz : So should we have kept those uninspiring teachers?

11:49:25 liz : Should we be protecting them?

11:49:41 PeggyG : lots of great comments on that article about
what good teachers do/look like

11:49:42 liz : Or should we make teaching a more rigorous
profession to enter, and discourage those mediocre teachers.

11:50:07 Lisa Parisi : That’s scary Cheryl.

11:50:07 CHERYL W : those uninspiring teachers are what inspired
me to be a teacher so I could inspire and make a diffeence for students!

11:50:16 Lisa Parisi : Me too.

11:50:38 PeggyG : we should be adding our voices to places other
than where we all agree with each other πŸ™‚

11:52:26 ppalermino : I love that comment…..For me too —that’s
what happens to work.

11:52:42 McTeach (Karen) : Exactly Peggy! Preaching to the choir
may make us feel good, but it doesn’t lead to a conversation that might lead to

11:53:57 nancyvonw : I agree, support each other- there is a lot
of competition between some teachers

11:54:01 PeggyG : What are the characteristics of inspiring
teachers to you? What do they do? How do they inspire you?

11:54:11 liz : Terry is getting to the crux of the matter…how do
we get admin to utilize the process to remove bad teachers from the
system?  Also, do we settle for
mediocrity?  They’re next….they need to
go, too.  How do we measure that?  How do we attract the ‘best of the best’ to
the profession, like in Finland (referred to in the “Waiting For
Superman” book)?

11:54:31 Lisa Parisi : Welcome Jackie.

11:54:37 PeggyG : I am inspired every day reading the blog posts,
plurks, tweets of teachers who are doing inspiring things with their students!!

11:54:42 nancyvonw : Those trusting relationships need to be in
place before many of us will go out on a limb

11:54:50 jackiegerstein : Hi Lisa – how are you?

11:55:13 Deya -> puentesalmundo: adelante

11:55:25 McTeach (Karen) : Hello Jackie!!

11:55:54 jackiegerstein : Hi Karen

11:56:07 PeggyG : in my experience even very strict teachers
inspired me because they expected a lot, taught me how to do it and then
celebrated my success.

11:56:24 Lisa Parisi : Strict was not the reason I did not like

11:56:27 nancyvonw : I learned best with teachers who were gentle
but challenging- and those who I felt weren’t going to put a label on me

11:56:33 McTeach (Karen) : Isn’t that what we’re supposed to do
for our students? Build them up. So, why can’t we do that for each other?!

11:56:44 jackiegerstein : Depends how you define strict

11:57:38 PeggyG : I just used strict because it was short–lots of
ways to define it but not teachers who just did fun, creative projects

11:59:34 liz : I come from the private sector…my boss didn’t
have an obligation beyond the normal training…

11:59:58 liz : You either show proficiency in your field, as
compared to your peers, or you’re fired.

12:00:07 tjshay : But, Liz, we are teachers… it’s inherent
in the job that they try to teach a better way

12:00:16 Lisa Parisi : Where does that allow for a learning curve,

12:00:29 PeggyG : trust and relationships are very important with
colleagues, admins, students, parents!

12:00:44 liz : A learning curve would be analogous to the private
sector’s learning curve.

12:00:53 liz : You get an amount of time to demonstrate

12:01:09 liz : if, after that time has passed, and you still have
not demonstrated proficiency, you need to go.

12:01:27 tjshay : Teaching children is not ONE skill set….it’s a
million….as diverse as the children we teach

12:01:30 liz : The price is too high to keep you!

12:02:09 McTeach (Karen) : Amanda is amazing!!

12:02:24 liz : I’m rabidly pro-union, my mother is the president
of a HUGE nursing union, my father is from the UAW

12:02:28 McTeach (Karen) : “Looking with different
eyes”…great line!

12:02:31 liz : but I refuse to protect a bad teacher.

12:02:58 PeggyG : that’s the key and heart of the matter Liz! you
can be pro-union but not defend poor teaching!

12:03:10 liz : i agree, peg

12:03:14 tjshay : No one wants to protect a bad teacher….but who
defines bad? The person who was fired was widely loved by the community

12:03:21 CHERYL W : Yes I agree Peggy!

12:03:22 liz : again tj, i agree

12:03:41 tjshay : Perhaps not loved for the write reasons…..but

12:04:25 tjshay : sorry, right reasons…’s early!

12:04:30 liz : i place the blunt of the blame on admin

12:04:36 liz : they aren’t getting rid of the dead weight

12:05:11 liz : brunt*

12:06:19 liz : i can relate with that

12:06:56 PeggyG : as a retired principal I can’t tell you how
difficult it is to remove poor teachers! You spend years guiding, mentoring,
facilitating, and documenting with no change and when you file the claim there
are always teachers, parents, students who step forward and say they love them
and they are good teachers and the board won’t vote to remove. It’s not as easy
as you may think it should be…

12:07:02 CHERYL W : I believe admin has there hands tied also due
to who they have to answer to.

12:07:24 liz : peggy, my union prez told me my admin doesn’t even
do the reviews.

12:07:35 liz : they miss the deadlines

12:07:56 PeggyG : principals can lose their jobs for not doing
teacher evaluations

12:08:06 tjshay : PeggyG, i know what you say is true….which
makes me sad. It’s devastating that some teachers don’t want to be better

12:08:22 PeggyG : the good old days πŸ™‚

12:08:34 PeggyG : I completely agree tjshay!!

12:08:54 CHERYL W : Agreed tjshay

12:08:58 liz : Listen, I live in Michigan.  I cannot express to you how difficult it was
to land a teaching gig.  The nepotism was
UNBELIEVABLE.  Maybe admin needs to
reevaluate their hiring process?  What IS
the criteria?  Ms. So and So has a friend
looking for a job, or Mr. So and So has a son who just graduated and needs a job….that’s

12:09:21 liz : It is pure madness.

12:09:34 PeggyG : that is pure madness!!

12:09:51 PeggyG : did they not use panels to interview that
included teachers, parents?

12:09:57 liz : It’s the golden rule here, if you don’t know
anyone, you are NOT getting a job.

12:10:21 liz : Sure they do, Peg. 
The horse and pony show was in full force.  No matter. 
The ‘friend’ or ‘relative’ always gets hired

12:10:33 patty : I totally agree with Liz. 

12:10:40 PeggyG : that’s very sad and disappointing then! the
process wasn’t working

12:10:49 liz : present tense–is not working

12:10:55 liz : It’s worse than ever.

12:11:06 CHERYL W : many times same thing  for us liz

12:11:13 liz : what state, cheryl?

12:11:34 CHERYL W : Florida – N E Rural county!

12:11:56 PeggyG : I love that statement Maria! I don’t know what’s
over and above, I only know what I do. 
What a great way to explain your answer πŸ™‚

12:12:04 liz : I am still SHOCKED I got this job. I got it because
one of my references was friends with the HR Director.

12:12:50 liz : I wake up every day, every day, and pinch myself.

12:13:01 liz : It took years and years to get this job.

12:13:07 PeggyG : great examples Maria! showing interest in them
as people and really listening to what they say (and sometimes don’t say)

12:13:48 McTeach (Karen) : Awesome line, Terry!

12:14:06 PeggyG : I’m inspired by teachers who love what they do
and it shows every day in their teaching.

12:14:17 liz : I agree, Peg.

12:14:26 Lisa Parisi : Peggy, how does it show?

12:14:33 liz : I seek them out and use them as mentors.

12:14:44 liz : Sadly, they are few and far between.

12:14:52 PeggyG : it shows when they get excited about the things
they are teaching and the things their students are learning

12:15:30 PeggyG : they show their passion and share it with
others–“one of my kids just created the greatest story”…

12:15:46 PeggyG : remember The Dot!!!

12:15:48 liz : Patty, look what Peg wrote, I know a person like
that, LOL.

12:16:22 liz : Patty is my inspirational teacher, her students are
so extremely lucky!!!

12:16:29 tjshay : What I want to be said about me…..he always
saw the kid and not just their behavior.

12:16:44 liz : Yes TJ!  I
don’t want to hear about your bad history with my student.

12:17:27 CHERYL W : recognizing the  …..ish in students!

12:17:59 tjshay : YAY “The Dot” and “Ish”

12:18:07 liz : I want my class to be ‘interesting’; I want my kids
to show excitement over the activities I spend hours preparing, every day.

12:19:09 patty : The teacher who inspired me most was “the
hip” freshman writing professor at MSU.

12:19:16 liz : ha

12:19:38 jackiegerstein : The teacher who I absolutely learned the
most from in K-12 was a 10th grade English teacher – inspired me to read Albee
& Russian Playwrites, perform plays in class, She saw me as me, and
tailored the class to my passions

12:19:58 liz : My most inspiring teacher was a Soc. Studies
methods prof who taught us how to teach SS in an interactive way. 

12:19:59 CHERYL W : learning just happens when a teacher cares and
connects to their students

12:20:13 PeggyG : This is a blog
post from one of my most inspiring colleagues-McTeach! “Each day upon
waking, I will remind myself that I am a person of value. I have something
wonderful to share with the people in my life, including my students. My
attitude is my choice. I choose to begin each day feeling positive about life.
I choose happiness.”

12:20:26 McTeach (Karen) : I don’t feel like I’m a very good
teacher, according to what I learned in the credential program, but my kids
laugh every day.

12:20:46 PeggyG : a sense of humor is so important McTeach!!!

12:20:46 liz : That means you’re a good teacher, McTeach, LOL.

12:20:50 McTeach (Karen) : Oh geez, Peggy…throwing my own words
back at me! πŸ™‚

12:20:58 jackiegerstein : It is best that you do not know about
Educaiton Nation and Waiting for Superman – it is all about measuring student
achievement via test scores

12:20:59 PeggyG : you live your words Karen!

12:21:08 patty : For some reason he befriended me and treated my
“nascent ideas” with great respect. 
He compared my writing to Pauline Kael, which was a great honor, even
though at the time I didn’t know who she was.

12:21:27 McTeach (Karen) : Thanks Peggy and Liz!

12:21:31 liz : Patty, you show genuine interest in your students,
they respond to that!

12:22:08 jackiegerstein : I got criticized (by a parent letter to
the principal) last week because at the end of tech class I play Gotta Feeling
(the kids mentioned it).  The parent
wrote the I and the kids got off task ;(

12:22:20 Maureen : But Maria- how do you measure love of
learning…People want benchmarks- that is what we keep on hearing

12:22:22 McTeach (Karen) : That’s what I want my kids to learn from
me…HOW they learn!

12:22:34 Lisa Parisi : Maureen, the ultimate question.

12:22:37 liz : I believe the trick is creating lifelong
learners.  I know, it sounds cliche.  But I believe it, wholeheartedly.  Igniting that flame.  That negates textbooks and worksheets.  LOL

12:22:53 jackiegerstein : User Generated education,Lisa πŸ˜‰

12:22:59 Lisa Parisi : LOL

12:23:16 MariaK : Maureen – I think we can see evidence of it in
classroom – need for observing and documenting – motivated , self directed

12:23:22 McTeach (Karen) : Perhaps we need to stop thinking of our
jobs as preparing our kids for the next level in their education.

12:23:24 patty : Can’t we have both.  Fun engaging activities in the classroom and
students who are able to do well on one type of test. 

12:23:29 PeggyG : yes Jackie!!! user generated education and
choices for students and teachers are very important!

12:23:37 MariaK : look for evidence and see how the level of
involvement increases

12:23:41 jackiegerstein : Love of learning period!

12:23:55 PeggyG : YES patty!!! we can have both!

12:24:13 Maureen : @jackie- Good thing they didn’t see my 6th
graders who took a break from what I wanted them to be doing to do a Justin
Bieber karoke session- it was only 2-3 minutes, but it was really funny… then
they got back on track

12:24:39 PeggyG : great story Maureen!!

12:24:39 liz : This conversation comes full circle!  How much damage do uninspiring teachers
cause?  I believe a great deal of
damage.  Too much damage. 

12:24:41 MariaK : Our learners have to be able to demonstrate what
they know.

12:25:21 PeggyG : yes Maria–and there are many ways to
demonstrate what they know–far beyond bubbles on a sheet

12:25:31 McTeach (Karen) : Yes!!! I agree Lisa!!!

12:25:37 jackiegerstein : An authentic audience motivates students
for best work

12:25:48 jackiegerstein : LOL

12:25:51 liz : How much enthusiasm do you really expect a child to
show when they are only exposed to textbooks and worksheets?  Seriously?

12:26:01 Lisa Parisi : None, Liz. 
Not a bit.

12:26:13 PeggyG : don’t get hung up on the label!! user generated
education doesn’t mean no standards

12:26:19 McTeach (Karen) : Oh geez

12:26:23 PeggyG : πŸ™‚

12:26:39 liz : Then why do we tolerate the ‘textbook and
worksheet’ teacher? 

12:26:45 liz : There are 1,000’s of them!

12:26:54 liz : my kid has had a few!

12:26:59 PeggyG : I started every university course I taught with
preservice teachers with the quote “Attitude is Everything!”

12:27:24 Maureen : I think that if we can communicate to parents
what we are doing and to the kids.. we’d be better off. I asked my 9th graders
to come up with how they were going to self-assess and what criteria they want
me to use to assess them. It was really hard for them. I told the parents about
my ideas for the class this year- and they got it. I want the kids to follow
their own ideas, their own passions. It’s coming along, but I have no idea what
I am really doing.

12:27:25 McTeach (Karen) : Thanks Maria! πŸ™‚

12:27:55 liz : I agree, I don’t think the nation is anti-teacher.

12:28:03 liz : People I know support teachers, 100%.

12:28:30 Lisa Parisi : Maureen, I thought about you this
morning.  I am going to have my students
write to next year’s teachers about themselves as learners.  You shared that idea with me.  Let their parents help them with the letter.

12:28:34 liz : Let me restate that, they support good teachers

12:28:38 CHERYL W : Liz – I don’t think the Nation respects
teachers or the profession!

12:28:42 Maureen : The teachers seem to be buying into the media
hype- esp this week.

12:28:54 Lisa Parisi : I don’t either, Cheryl.

12:29:06 Lisa Parisi : I think most people think that they could
do the job better.

12:29:15 Lisa Parisi : We’ve all been in school.  We all know what to do.

12:29:17 liz : Yes Lisa.

12:29:19 CHERYL W : agreed Lisa!

12:29:19 PeggyG : if you need a daily boost to help you keep a
positive attitude when things aren’t always going the way you want them, get
the CD “From Burned Out to Fired Up: Affirmations for Educators” by
Carrie Chapman and listen to a couple every morning before you go to school.

12:29:34 liz : I don’t help with attitude, I am too new…I’m
excited every day.

12:29:39 Lisa Parisi :

12:29:45 liz : need help*

12:30:14 CHERYL W : Yeah Fablevision!!!!

12:30:18 PeggyG : yes!! surround yourself with positive,
like-minded people whenever you can!!

12:30:19 MariaK : Sounds good – peggy. I’m looking for it now!

12:30:49 CHERYL W : Maybe if we could all mentor one teacher we
can start to amke a difference!

12:30:52 PeggyG : I love it MariaK!! It has affirmations that
relate to all levels of education, teaching, admin, etc.

12:30:53 Cathy E : I am so very lucky to have administrators that
support and guide and back each teacher 100%

12:30:55 liz : I’m new to the profession, my colleagues seem to
have a pretty strong attitude toward admin, I try to stay out of it, ha.

12:31:17 PeggyG : That is going to be an outstanding webinar to
participate in!

12:31:23 Maureen : Altho I don’t disagree with you, Maria- I need
positive feedback… but I have pie in the sky admins, and they would be happy
if we all stood in a circle and sung kumbaya…I need to learn from people who
disagree with me too- critical friends

12:31:23 liz : I did an IEP on my own time this week, the union
was not happy with me.

12:31:24 jackiegerstein : It is going to be amazing – Steve’s

12:31:42 PeggyG : Mon. Oct. 4, 5:00pm EST

12:31:50 nancyvonw : wow!

12:31:57 McTeach (Karen) : It’ll be on during school time! πŸ™

12:31:58 PeggyG : it will be recorded and archived if you miss it
(on the same link)

12:32:31 CHERYL W : sounds good

12:32:32 liz : Alphie cohn? 

12:32:49 Lisa Parisi :

12:32:52 PeggyG : such an incredible group of people participating
in the conversation! and they don’t all agree πŸ™‚

12:33:18 liz : Does anyone know of a collaboration site, like
this, that focuses on tech in the classroom?

12:33:20 Lisa Parisi : Bye

12:33:21 PeggyG : thank you Terry! you’re always so enthusiastic
and such an inspiration!

12:33:40 CHERYL W : thanks everyone great conversation!

12:33:53 Maureen : @liz have you checked classroom 2.0 groups?

12:33:53 nancyvonw : thanks, Maria- enjoy the fair!

12:34:01 liz : no maureen, do yu have a link?

12:34:06 MariaK : bye everyone – on my way to the Fair!!!

12:34:11 nancyvonw : thanks everyone!


Leave a Comment