Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Minimalist or a Talk in the Teacher's Lounge

"We'll just red-flag him in case he needs interventions later."

"When 'just' and 'red flag' are both in the same sentence, I know I must be at (insert name of school here). Nowhere else would a red flag be a relief."
"Teachers in my former school didn't have a clue as to what needy and poor students are like."
"Not at all?"
"No, they kept saying that their school should have all the programs for the poor and the lower class sizes that go with it. And in the next breath they'd mention that they had no free or reduced lunch families in their classes, and there was a stay-at-home mom volunteering all the time while her husband was 'taking depositions'."
Snort in response. "No clue."
"And do you know what? I wouldn't have it any other way. This is a great school with great kids and really neat families."

Unwrapping of lunches, tea bags dropped into mugs of water and placed in microwaves

"Which students go to the Talented and Gifted class with you today?"
"Susan, Ron, Jorge, and Jerome."
"I thought there were five. Um...Hans! Isn't Hans in the program?"
"He chose not to participate."
"Oh, that's too bad. He's so bright. He learns so quickly, and seems to pick up new concepts out of thin air."
"I remember his brothers. They were the same way -- minimalists. Nothing but the bare minimum effort to get by."
"Oh, that's so sad. So much ability, and so little motivation."

Beeping of microwave, setting up of plastic forks and spoons, as teachers inhale a little lunch

"None of us are minimalists."
"None of us put a bare minimum of effort into our teaching. If we only wanted that, we wouldn't teach here."
General laughter and nods.
"Hey, all. Isn't this an awesome school?"
General chorus of "Yeah, all right, you bet!"
And off we went into the wild blue yonder of trying to tame and teach our young unpredictable charges in a diverse, largely low-income school, while the weather outside was frightful and there was a full moon on the way.

And no, I wouldn't want it any other way.

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Blogger Cheryl said...

It's so nice that your work gives you such a feeling of purpose and fulfillment. Like you know you are where you are supposed to be. Refreshing.

1/23/2008 8:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is such a great post. I love the collegiality, how comfortable you all seem with each other. Nice writing.

1/23/2008 9:28 PM  
Blogger Flea said...

Sounds like you work with good people. Our kids are in a school with great teachers and I'm really grateful.

I was at Tanya's blog ( and she was looking for someone who knew from composting. Taking a stab in the dark, based on your blog title, I left your url in her comment section. Hope you don't mind?

1/23/2008 9:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wish I knew what school you were at...I know it's in Appleton...anyway, I HATED minimalists and I had many of them when I taught high school. Great conversation;)

1/24/2008 8:21 AM  
Blogger Believer in Balance said...

I'm glad you're an educator! It's unfortunate how many minimalists are out there.

1/24/2008 11:24 AM  

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