Author Archives: Travis Wittwer

Rigorous Teachers

By Travis Wittwer

I typically do not post on other posts. However, a post from Education Week caught my attention and shares a great deal of what I hope for Washington when I think of its future as an education state. 

The AFT (American Federation of Teachers) has an ambitious plan and I can get behind much of it.

I found myself nodding my head to was the call for rigorous, and consistent standards in teacher training programs. It is good for students and Washington because everyone gets a stronger teacher. It is also good for the teaching profession because it raises the quality of teachers which will raise the respect the profession gets.

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By Travis

Across America, teachers at various levels and subjects went online to read the results of their National Board certification process.

Congratulations! Washington has always done well as a state and this is because Washington is on course to making excellence in education a state-wide goal. 

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The Paper

By Travis A. Wittwer 8088082266_c5ee72d6ec_n

Paper. A school is dependent on paper. This thin, white, innocuous object has value beyond what is initially seen. Paper marks the flow of ideas and learning throughout the school. It is hard to imagine a school without paper. Yet, each year imagining a school without paper becomes easier to imagine.

Paper is an indicator species for resources in the school. Paper represents the health and strength of the school. Paper is symbolic of other resources within the school such as writing utensils, novels, additional support in the library, or clubs to create school culture. 

Paper, and that for which it represents, is another item I will include on my list of Invisibles

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The Meetings

Picture 2By Travis Wittwer

In keeping with October's theme of Invisibles, I share with you … The Meetings, but first, a brief definition. "Invisibles" is a general term for all of the unseen things that teachers do to keep the education machine running. The goal of October is to bring a few of these Invisibles to light so that people outside of the school setting have a clear idea of what it is like inside the school. 

So on to The Meetings as my teaching partner and I have been all week. It started on Monday …. 

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I sat at my dining room table this morning, finishing up a crossword, before moving on to what’s new in education news.

Budget cuts, great numbers of teachers leaving the profession, and frustrating class sizes are creating an education dilemma. An edulemma, if you will.

In an effort to view the current situation from all perspectives, I donned my alter ego, William P. Levitt, and found that solutions to our educational situation are within reach. 

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More Appreciation

Pulpit rockBy Travis

Writing did not come easily to me. In junior high, I would watch my friends energetically write, their pencils dancing away, creating works of great literature, or at least semi-coherent pieces that would garner a passing grade. 

Writing eluded me. I knew what writing was and I was an avid reader, but the power to mold words and phrases into something worthy was beyond me. It was akin to magic.

Science and math were my subjects. I tolerated English because I enjoyed reading. Then in my senior year, my American Literature teacher changed my life.

Mr. Blair was a short man, solidly build. The use of "stout" would fit most welcome on his person. He wore casual clothes as he was also a coach in a variety of sports. Golf shirts and jeans. He did not have the appearance of an amazing teacher. I walked into class on the first day and had him figured out: sports guy who loved worksheets and end of chapter questions. I would nail this semester. 

I left that first day both wrong (totally wrong) and happy at being wrong (a unique endeavor in my early adolescence).

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By Travis Picture 7

I took my sons to school with me on national Take Your Child to Work day. It humanized me. I have a good rapport with students because I care about them as people outside of my subject area. I know for many students the intricacies of Shakespeare’s language in The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet is not what is important for their survival that day. I also know that my class may just be a blip on their day of ups and downs. Given this, I work hard to make their time in my class an “up.”

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Education Remodel

by Travis

My posts as of late have been somber, critical, and perhaps too much on the glass-half-empty side. I am aware that they have been. I knew they would be.

This dark view on our state’s support of our educational system and the future success of our schools is the result of watching education change over the 15 years of my career.

But enough about school. I gave my kitchen a simple remodel during the first week of April.

Days later, as I was preparing a meal in my kitchen, I recognized the metaphor. This kitchen is my outlook on teaching.

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What Are We Teaching Our Teachers?

Picture 3By Travis

Education is a fascinating field in which to work. In addition to the joy and interest that students bring with them each period, I find our educational system fascinating. This system can be observed, and analyzed, as if it were an animal, a personality, and in many cases, a machine.

Suzy is a teacher. This is not her real name. In fact, it may not be the correct gender. However, for this tale, I will use Suzy. It is the name I use with all of my writing that I do with my students. Suzy is not the name, but the person is real.

Suzy is a teacher who works in a large school within a large school district. Recently Suzy learned something about how the education system works, or more to the point … Suzy was taught something that I find appalling.

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