The Universal

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Day 25 of #btbc15: Teacher Activists- What's your Cause?

I definitely would not consider myself an activist.  There are many things I am extremely passionate about, though.  I believe strongly in supporting:

cultural relevancy
closing the poverty gap
smaller class sizes
unit planning
early childhood education
quality literacy instruction
mentoring others
early intervention
character education

***I might be forgetting a few.

    If you put all those things together, I guess I activate for what they do all together to affect the students. When I took the role of a literacy coach, I asked my principal what she expected of me in my new role.  She said that she would like me to work towards the universal goal of getting at least 80% of our students reading at grade level.  She was, of course, referring to the students on that RTI triangle known as the universal.  Sadly, I have yet to work to increase that percentage across the school to 80%.  For my school, many of the factors above affect many of the subgroups of kids that create our universal.  So, I need to keep all those things in mind when making decisions that affect the universal group.  

    Bottom line: I advocate for our students.  

     Dr. Mary Howard tweeted this this week, and it made me think about all the things that blur our focus on our priority.  Accountability, data, and perhaps some things that we are extremely passionate about.  Sometimes, if we are so focussed on something that we believe in, we forget to make sure that it is relevant to all the students sitting in front of us. What do they need right now?  What do they need as they move from one grade to the next?

     I try very hard to consider all the things that could impact our universal, and try to guide my decisions around the things that will make the most difference for our 500 students.  I have some tough conversations, and I reflect a lot (probably too much) on the choices I make.  But, if you advocate for kids, it is not always an easy journey.  I make a lot of mistakes.  I rely on my PLN (both in district and otherwise) to help guide me.  I try to put students first, always.  I don't always succeed with that, because sometimes my own feelings sneak back in, but I try.  They are our priority.

     I am an advocate for the universal.  I advocate for our students.  


  1. This is so beautiful Leah and I'm so honored that my post inspired you to write these amazing words (& that came from YOU!) You're so right my friend. When external accountability dissuades from our internal responsibility to kids we get further and further away from achieving our goal. Unfortunately it's kids who suffer from OUR choice to substitute responsibility for outside factors that have little to do with what our Sts really need (and deserve). Beautiful post & I am equally inspired by your words - words that every teacher needs to hear (and take to heart)!

    1. Thanks, Mary. Your words are always inspirational, so that means so much coming from you. :)

  2. I love this. You are so right, we can lose our focus by becoming too focused on our "cause." I hold at least 7 things on your list close to my heart too.

    1. I bet your students benefit daily from having a teacher with such a big heart. :)