By Jennifer Pendergrast
Southaven Intermediate 3rd Grade Teacher
Daunting- the word I would use to describe the first week of school. Administrators have an exhaustive agenda for their teachers, as teachers have plenty to think about as well. Teachers are frantically trying to set up classrooms, decorate doors, make name tags and lunch tags, make copies, write lesson plans, etc., and on top of all that somehow manage to design instruction to be better than ever. We set the bar so high for ourselves, yet our goal is so vague. “Be better!”
When entering a seminar or motivational talk, one might expect to hear the usual educational rants- “Raise test scores! Use cooperative groups! Incorporate more technology!” Chuck Benigno did speak about all those things, but he began by declaring our goals should be specific and manageable. He compared vague goals with specific goals to improve in specific aspects of instruction. He spoke with experience from his broad educational background, shared his tried and true strategies from respected scholars such as Harry Wong, Todd Anderson, and Jim Collins, made us laugh with adorable Youtube videos, made us cry with Carrie Underwood’s version of “How Great Thou Art”, and challenged us by the way of a fifth grade student from Texas, pleading for teachers not to give up on their students. He showed us how his test scores in Laurel County have grown tremendously in the past few years by simple improvements each of his teachers have made under his leadership. It really makes one exhale a sigh of relief, “I don’t have to reinvent the wheel, instead I can start small.” His two most resonating points were to make specific goals to promote steady and gradual improvement and to work diligently for designated amounts of time.
Personally, my specific goal is to have all of my materials prepared for my lessons a week ahead of time. From now until Labor Day, I will be the very best teacher I possibly can. Thank you, Mr. Benigno.