Mattering is the Only Agenda

This is a guest post by Amy Fiedler, a districtadministrator for the Central New York Regional Information Center in Syracuse, NY. 

Last week, I attended a workshop with about 50 fellow educators.  As the workshop began, the facilitators asked us to discuss what we believed contributes to a positive school climate.  Several attendees said they used to begin class each day with a meeting in which students learned how to actively listen, greet others, and share appropriately, contributing to a positive climate. However, many of the participants said they just don’t have time for this anymore.

The facilitator asked the teachers why they would stop something that contributed to a positive climate.

The answer? Two words: Common Core.  

The demands of the new ELA and math curriculum and endless assessments had crowded out any room in the schedule for greeting, sharing and listening.  The high school teachers expressed similar sentiments, with some saying that they can’t possibly get to know students that they only see for 40 minutes a day. I could not believe what I was hearing.

How can you ever expect your students to care about anything you have to teach if you don’t show them you care about them?  Forget about test scores and curriculum for just a minute.  Education is not a business.  Schools are not factories. These are children;  our greatest resource, who will lead our nation not only in the future, but who, if asked, will contribute to and lead our country, and communities, today.

If we as educators don’t teach our children how to be respectful, responsible citizens who will?  If we don’t make sure they know they matter and have an obligation to share their genius with the world, who will?  

Mattering is the agenda.  Forget about Common Core, assessments, and APPR.  Start greeting your students at the door in the morning.  Take two minutes out of your day to say hello to your students and ask them how they are.  Ask them if they had breakfast.  Ask them if they are feeling okay.  Ask them what they are interested in.  Invest a little time showing your students that they matter and I guarantee what you have to say will begin to matter to them. 

Because you matter.  

Remember that: you matter.