In October 2012, my local newspaper published “Exhaustion of the American Teacher” by John Kuhn. I remember reading the article once. Twice. Four-hundred times. It simply spoke every frustrated, burnt out end of my professional being. If you haven’t read it yet, please stop reading this article and go there.
So, like any curious reader, I visited to the source of the article and found TheEducatorsRoom.com
A month later, that same local newspaper – where I wrote a monthly column – started printing three times a week instead of daily, and they told me to go packing. That’s when I wrote my first article, “Use Your Christmas Break to Get Political,” which was published on Christmas Eve, 2012. You can tell that, starting from the onset, my articles were meant to get you thinking and discussing controversial topics.
Four years and 149 articles later, we’ve arrived at this point — my 150th article. I’m certainly not TER’s most prolific writer (that belongs to my elementary colleague Lori Rice, who is approaching her 200th article), and certainly not our most influential (that hat could be worn by just about anybody on our staff on any given day, most especially John, Cari Harris, our editor, or, of course, Fran Warren, our, founder, CEO and inspiration.), but I did want to take a moment to step back and reflect on some of my most influential articles here are this site, where teachers are the experts.
MY MOST POPULAR ARTICLES
“8 Reasons Gum Has No Place in the Classroom” (Dec. 2014) – Who would’ve thought that my most read (and hotly contested) article would be a quick missive that I wrote after being frustrated by stepping in gum in the hallways and then debating a colleague about this. Certainly not me.
“Principals, Here’s What Your Teachers Need From You” (Sept. 2015) – Teachers, by and large, are people-pleasers. When we don’t get along with our principals, it irks us. Additionally, many principals are well read. Both those contributors make this my second-most-read article.
“Raising Boys Achievement Involves Providing More Teachers” (Dec. 2012) – the second article I wrote has become my third highest read article. In a profession of primarily women, it certainly has made some of them angry, but I still stand by my words today.
OTHER CONTROVERSIAL ARTICLES
“To the Depths of Darkness and Back” (Apr. 2013) – This was my most difficult article to ever write; I was so depressed in 2010-11 that I wrote my resignation letter. I still receive occasional emails from fellow educators who’ve experienced much the same, and we share a bond of survival and improvement.
“Take a Moment to Stop and Enjoy the End of the School Year” (Jun. 2013) – Busy bees need to refresh themselves here. I’ve re-read this article more than anything else I’ve ever written. This is more dear to my heart since our school just lost this custodian in October after he succumbed to his fight with brain cancer.
“10 Ways to Deal with the Negative Teacher” (Oct. 2013) – There are teachers like this person on every staff. Don’t let them turn your planning center into a swamp! The negativity is contagious.
Ready or Redshirt: When to Send a Child to Kindergarten, An Educator’s Perspective” (Dec. 2015) – I’ve had many friends’ children reach the age of deciding when to go to school, so our conversations turned themselves into an article.
UNDER THE RADAR / DISAPPOINTMENTS
“Tale of Two Cities: How Taxpayers Foot Sports Bills at the Cost of Education” (Dec. 2013) – I always thought this article would gather more legs, as I think it’s more true today than the day I wrote it. City schools are broke. Professional sports are flush with cash. But, the dollar always follows the attention.
“The Breaking Point of Education” – I always thought this would be my “Exhaustion of the American Teacher” article. It wasn’t.
“Lack of Substitutes, Canary in the Mine” (Oct. 2015) – I really wish this article weren’t so true, but it is. My district is getting creamed every Friday. I’m losing my planning periods once every week. There will be a follow-up article to this one titled “The Death of the Teaching Profession”
“A Letter to My Students on 1st Amendment Rights” (Sept. 2016) – Can’t wait to share this one with my students in January. I’m going to hide my name on the article; I’ll be curious to what they say about it.
“How many teachers have to be slain before Americans take action?” (Oct. 26) – One of my biggest surprises was when a friend (who worked at The Guardian, but now works at CNN) viewed some of my Facebook posts and asked me to turn it into an article. It was the most read article for the month at one of the UK’s biggest news sources.
“NO MORE YELLING AT STUDENTS!” (Apr. 2014) – This article has become one of my top 10 most read, if only because it’s our “go-to” when we’re frustrated. Researching this article changed my pedagogy on this one.
“What I Don’t Have Time to Do Anymore, and What I’d Do If I Had It” – I remember the end of the school day where I’d been meetinged out and writing this article in about 15 minutes. Little did I ever expect it to be my debut in The Washington Post.
“Challenger Disaster, 30 Years Later” (Jan. 2016) – This was a very pivotal moment for NASA, science, and educators. Hardly a peep from the rest of the world when the anniversary came and went.
“Damn You, Kid, For Making Me Cry” (June 2016) – If you don’t live a world of emotions while teaching in this job, you’re not doing it right.
“Teacher Olympics: 34 Events for Every Educator” (Aug. 2016) – I often need to tell myself to chill out and write a more light-hearted article. This is one of my more well-read.
“What Frustrates Me about Non-Public Schools” (Mar. 2013, with Paula Kay Glass) – Paula started her own private school, and we’ve had great conversations about them. One day each of us started voicing our frustrations with the other, and we turned that great conversation into my first collaborative.
“Why Teaching Is the Most Liberal Job in America” – (Mar. 2016, with Jeremy Adams), I heard this on the news one day in the car, and asked Jeremy Adams (whom is my conservative alter-ego) if he’d like to write companion pieces, he taking the conservative side. We received a healthy amount of lash back from educators wishing to take politics out of education, but we reminded them it’s not possible.
“Stress and Mess: Deliberate Practice and Professional Obligation” (Oct. 2016, with Dan McConnell) – many collabs begin with frustration, and both Dan and I were frustrated with our admins throwing around words that just meant that we needed to work more. So these two epic articles were hatched from it.
I used to do an interview series titled the “Inspirational Educator,” whereby I’d focus on some amazing people in education. It didn’t go as well as I thought it would, but the subjects I was able to interview were amazing. Who knows, I might make this series into a podcast in the future, because I had so many great guests – including (among others):
Tom “The Sock Man” McNamara (Jan. 2014) – This teacher sold all of his possessions when he retired and now drives a mobile home, giving socks to homeless people. If Jesus were alive today, he’d walk with McNamara.
Melissa Seideman (Apr. 2014) – Co-founder of #SSchat, and the teacher who inspired me to start my own Teachers Pay Teachers store.
Taylor Mali (June 2014) – This educator and poet is known for the amazing “What Teachers Make” poem to retort any fool who wants to denigrate teachers.
David Menasche (Sept. 2014) – Amazing, outspoken English teacher and author of The Priority List, this was probably the most amazing interview I’ve ever conducted in my life. His movie is in development, with Steve Carrell purportedly playing Menasche.
Cheryl Beckwith (Sept. 2014) – This super teacher has been leading classrooms for 45 years! Give her a Presidential Medal of Honor or something.
Kid President (Jan. 2015) – Do I really need to explain myself here?
Joshua Katz (Apr. 2015) – Katz’s TedTalk is still one of those that I watch at least annually. He’s the only person on this list whom I met, and I today consider him a friend and even greater advocate for education.
So, that’s it. One-hundred and fifty articles. Four years. It’s been a great run. Looking forward to what TER brings me – and, more importantly, you the reader – in the years to come.
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