Today the principal was in my room for 90 minutes.

After 10 minutes of direct instruction to the class, I noticed one of my students madly waving her hand. She wanted to whisper something in my ear, so I bent over to listen.

Her message: “Your zipper is open!!”

It went downhill from there for about 40 more minutes. My kids just weren’t engaged. They were playing along for my sake, I suppose, but nobody was connected.  It wasn’t until I decided it couldn’t get any worse, so tossed the pre-approved lesson plan and went extemporaneous for the rest of the class that we clicked into our usual groove.

Earlier in the week, I asked my fourth period to watch this video: and then they talked about what motivates them to try new things or to excel in school.

I spent the next 90 minutes in silence, just listening to the raw and sometimes emotional opinions of 30 odd teens who want to achieve brilliant things, but feel smothered by an outdated education system.

Now I’m off to a three hour class with 20 other teachers/administrators who maybe feel the same way my students do–who feel like maybe they are standing, every day, in front of not only an entire room of teenagers, but entire schools and communities unprepared, with a zipper undone.  I haven’t hardly slept in days (yes, Meg needed me to cut her hair, fix her dress, move the waistband in her dress, and print her travel documents the night before she left) and I’m coming down with some kind of flu. But this thing–this muddling through a doctoral program aimed at really changing educational paradigms–feels like it might be worth it.

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