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By Suzanne Klein on 2/12/2015 10:49 AM

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I was planning on posting a formative assessment piece but I saw this wonderful blog and couldn’t help but share it just in time for Valentine’s Day. Thanks Cindi! (Photo by THOR, via Flickr Creative Commons)
By Cindi Rigsbee


I love love. For many years, I tried to recreate the enchantment I experienced with Valentine’s Day as a young girl by offering a “Love In” for my students on February 14. I created “love stations” that students rotated through to find different tasks. At one stop, they found compound-word hearts: a basket full of cut hearts, each labeled with one half of a compound word, serving as a fun puzzle. At another, students had to read a love poem from a stack of poetry books. “Write a love poem” was the task at a different table, and  my favorite, Sonnet 18, would serve as the example. But before all that, students had to listen to a love song so they would be in a “love-ly” mood.                                                                                                                                                                   

For the most part, my middle school students were willing participants (though they were more excited about the candy-gram deliveries that day). It was a day when even students with minor disagreements with one another took a day off to be nice.

But then it ended. I’m not sure exactly what year I had to cancel the “Love In.” At some point, I realized that I needed that time to teach specifically to my standards, answer my principal’s daily question “How will this get results?,” and search for more rigorous work.

But still I believe, deep inside my Valentine-shaped heart, that teachers can find love in a school building. Here’s four ways how.

—Photo by THOR, via Flickr Creative Commons
By Suzanne Klein on 6/19/2014 8:55 AM

Vivian Maguire is an English teacher at Transmountain Early College High School in the El Paso Independent School District. Her post was originally published on June 10, 2014 in Education Week. Thank you Vivian for letting us share your article! Check out her blog, StoryMother, or follow Vivian on Twitter: @maguireteacher.

I am an English teacher who has been in the classroom for nine years. As an experienced educator, I have endured and complied with many new school policies and changes, most of which mainly affected teachers. But earlier this year my school was informed of some changes that would ultimately affect our students, and that I couldn't stand for.

The district had decided to cut teachers' planning time in half by instead sending teachers into other teachers' classrooms to serve as aides. The assumption was that teachers are not using that time effectively anyway so why not put two teachers in every classroom?

A teacher’s planning period has always been viewed by some district administrators and school board members as “free time” that can be taken up with meetings, extra classes, hall-duty, or any other assignment that they happen to think of. But in fact, good teachers really do use their planning time. In fact, most would say it’s essential for creating engaging lessons and improving student outcomes. Losing that time is particularly fear-inducing for hard-working teachers because we know that once we lose it, we will never get it back, and we need every minute we can get.

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