Our generous PTA awards numerous grants to our teachers. These financial gifts support special classroom projects, materials, speaker and field trip fees, access to the arts, community engagement, and many other projects and programs that simply wouldn’t exist without their funding. Access to funding is critically important to classroom teachers, especially given the long term budget cuts school systems have had to endure since the Great Recession.
Yet, when I made my list of possible PTA grant requests, I realized my list was less about needs and more about priorities. March is a busy content month with state standardized tests just around the corner. The frenetic pace of content delivery coupled with the pressure to prepare students to pass the rigid five-paragraph essay, can distract and lead teachers astray from research-based best practices.
The pull to move through content at a breakneck speed and the pressure to produce a group of kids who pass and pass advance a state test, cannot be my center.
This I know is true: Engagement, autonomy, sense of purpose, and opportunities for success are the key ingredients to a successful classroom. How do I get there? Stick to my priorities!
My top 10 Classroom Priorities for the Spring:
- Make independent reading time sacred.
- Write daily and widely.
- Share our wonders, connections, and questions.
- Celebrate and laugh often.
- Maintain a robust and diverse classroom library.
- Value student-created learning goals over uniform unit skills
- Keep equity front and center: access, support, expectations
- Develop a community of learners built on trust
- Encourage risk-taking and mistake-making
- Advocate for student and teacher autonomy