Sunday, February 19, 2017

Fish Philosophy

Last week, I had the pleasure of attending the Teacher Practice Network convening at Lake Point Conference Center in Russellville, Arkansas. Our @APSRC leaders facilitated the convening built around the ideas of the Fish Philosophy. The philosophy is based on the Pike Place Fish Market.

The four principles are

Teachers need to remember to play, not only grind out the work. After all, we all know what happens when our students do not get recess. Teachers need to bring their creative spirit to more than just lesson plans.  Play taps into our natural way of being creative. Play is the spirit that drives the curious mind, as in “Let’s play with that idea!” It’s a mindset we can bring to everything we do. Stuart Brown, a play researcher, and psychiatrist said in his TED talk that what is"so unique about our species is that we're really designed to play through our whole lifetime."

Teachers need to remember to Be There. It is our present to be present each and every day with our students. It is all too easy to allow other things to distract our attention from the students. The principal of Be There is too critical to overlook. Matt Killingsworth "discovered that a feeling of pleasure, contentment, or happiness occurred when folks were doing one thing at a time, that’s it." Teachers will experience more joy if they commit to the principle of Be There.

Teachers talk to students daily about their attitudes. But, when do we adjust our attitudes? Our attitude is the one thing we can control. The American comedian, W.C. Fields, wrote, "Attitude is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than what people do or say. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill." The good news is that it is easy to Choose Your Attitude.

We can use Make Their Day in spontaneous or planned ways. A smile and a thank you can brighten someone's day. This principle is a win-win for teachers. When we choose to brighten someone's day, it helps make our life more meaningful because we are meant to be in relationship with our students and our colleagues. Nicholas Provenzano provides 3 Meaningful Ways to Make Relationships with Your Students.

While these principles would be easier to remember if they used a FISH acronym,  many schools, businesses, and hospitals already use the Fish Philosophy to create better customer service and to have better employee retention. Teacher retention is critical. The state of Arkansas reports a 77% teacher retention rate statewide with an expected deficit of teachers based on the number of students currently enrolled in teacher training programs. Maybe, we all need to invest some time in the Fish Philosophy.


Brown, S. (2008, May). Play is more than just fun. Retrieved February 19, 2017, from

FISH for Schools. (2017). Retrieved February 19, 2017, from

Killingsworth, M. (2011, November). Want to be happier? Stay in the moment.
Retrieved February 19, 2017, from

Suzanne Rogers, M.Ed.


TPN Teacher Leader
District Director of Professional development, AP English Teacher, ELA Coach and cradle United Methodist. 

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Learning Blade is a free platform for Arkansas Middle Schools provided by a $400,000 grant.  This platform may also be used with GT groups in elementary.  There are Social Studies, Science, Math, and ELA aligned lessons that are fifteen minutes long. There are over 400 interactive lessons. There are printable lessons and resources to go along with the interactive lessons. It is flexible and aligned to state standards.

Why do we need STEM career instruction?
The National Academy of Sciences identified three goals for STEM education:
*Increase the number of advanced degrees awarded and people entering advanced technology careers
*Increase the size and quality of the STEM-related workforce
*Improve STEM literacy for all students

A pilot study of Learning Blade showed the following results.
These students responded that:
72% learned something about new careers
76% learned something about technology
61% and 54% learned something about math and English, respectively
71% would rather use Learning Blade than do traditional homework

Interested?  View this training for teachers.
More training will follow.
 Contact for personalized attention.

Suzanne Rogers, M.Ed.

District Director of Professional development, AP English teacher, ELA Coach and cradle United Methodist.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Six Things Educators Can Do

Artist: Favianna Rodriguez.

Teachers care deeply about their students. ICE raids strike fear in the heart of a community. Students are in our schools due to decisions of parents. Our nation requires that schools educate all students who come through our doors. ICE raids are akin to emergency surgery without anesthesia. Removing one member of our community in this manner is painful. Removing a parent of one of our students is heartbreaking.
Luckily, The American Federation of Teachers has provided resources and lesson plans to help in this situation. @Sharemylesson provides access to these materials. The six steps below are provided by these organizations.

1. Cut out this image and place the image on your door to signal to students and families that this is a safe space.

2. Create a classroom where all students are welcome and supported no matter what – teach lessons that tear down stereotypes and promote inclusivity and empathy. (
3. Know your rights as a teacher – ex, ICE cannot conduct activity in your classroom or school campus, they cannot ask you for information or collect information on your students under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, etc. (
4. Make sure your students know their rights – without singling students out, let them know where they can find information on their legal rights ( and
5. Maintain a list of resources ex local immigrant rights organizations, pro bono attorneys and social workers that can be shared with students and families
6. Become an ally and person who stands in solidarity with students and their families, Unafraid Educator (

Suzanne Rogers, M.Ed.
District Director of Professional development, AP English teacher, ELA Coach, and cradle United Methodist.

Sunday, February 5, 2017



I've been a bit amused by the push back by a group of fellow teachers regarding school choice. School choice is defined by FOCUS ON THE FAMILY as "School choice is a nationwide movement that empowers parents by enabling them to make the best possible choice for their children's education. In short, it puts power in the hands of parents to decide which type of education best fits the needs of their particular child – whether that is a public, private or religious institution, or educating their child at home." They go on to clarify "we believe school choice represents the cutting-edge future of education. It breaks up the current bureaucratic monopoly controlling our education system and places the power squarely into the hands of the people to whom it belongs: parents."

As educators, we should concern ourselves first and foremost with the students in our immediate care. Yes, we should also concern ourselves with the profession as a whole, but first and foremost should be our students.  School choice includes public, private, charter, magnet, virtual, as well as, homeschool options. All are viable options for parental choice. In the USA, the government need not select an option for a student. This is the parents responsibility.

School choice provides options for ALL families regardless of their socio-economic status. Charter schools and magnet schools enable parents to make an appropriate tuition-free choice for their children. Scholarships and vouchers also enable parents to make appropriate tuition choices regarding private schools. Some states offer a wide variety of choices.

Encourage school choice options in your state. Teachers should support each other. Each and every teacher care about the students in their class. We should not get hung up on public vs. private or traditional vs. charter. Let's support each other and continue caring for our students.

Suzanne Rogers, M.Ed.


District Director of Professional Development, AP English Teacher, ELA Coach and cradle United Methodist. 

Saturday, January 28, 2017

The Struggle-when personal politics do not mesh with school politics

The Struggle is Real!
When personal politics do not mesh with workplace politics.

As a charter school teacher this election opened doors for school choice. This in my school mind is a beautiful thing. Allowing parents to choose the best option for their child is ideal (School choice includes private, online, homeschool, charter, magnet, and traditional schools) My personal struggle comes when my personal politics do not mesh with the politics best for my school. I know that staying civil is the key to success in personal relationships. But, shouldn't we be able to talk about the issues rationally if we are educators forming minds of little people?  What does research say about best practices in this situation?

Last February, Stephen Antczak contributed a piece for Forbes, Next Avenue that reviewed the literature on the subject.  The truth, as seen in our current political environment, can be painful to receive.  Political scientists Shanto Iyengar of Stanford University and Sean J. Westwood of Princeton University found in their study that people are quite willing to "openly decry and actually discriminate" against those of different political parties. Individuals are currently fleeing social media due to this very public issue. Closing our ears to differences is prejudice.  Much like shutting our borders to the very types of immigrants that continually makes our nation great shows great prejudice while being ironic.

Antczak also cited a 2011 Boston study that found both liberal and conservatives were open to "some level of bipartisanship among their friends." The study further showed that qualities such as trustworthiness, dependability and an easygoing manner mattered more to the success of the friendship.  Antczak concluded by saying that he would maintain his bipartisan friendships as they, " alternative portal through which to view certain issues."

What has made our nation great is our diversity, not our homogeneity. We must continue to hone what we have in common and ever so gently smooth the rough edges of our differences.

Suzanne Rogers, M.Ed
District Director of Professional development, AP English teacher, ELA Coach and cradle United Methodist.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

The Struggle is Real- threefold statement on leadership

December 31, 2016

As an instructional leader, I am perpetually looking for knowledge to inspire, to teach, and to broaden my current perspective. I am also personally interested in the quiet work of The Elders.  Many teachers are interested in social justice.  As our public school populations continue to shift, it is imperative that we understand our students' backgrounds and the walls of prejudice they face daily.  Chair of the Elders, Kofi Annan's statement on leadership is fourfold. These three points can guide current and future #teacherleaders

1.  Be open and willing to listen
2.  Need not always be right
3.  A good follower

BE OPEN. To be open is to understand that all of our teachers have brilliant ideas. We must be willing to listen to these ideas. Teacher leaders must also be open to the restrictive policies of our schools. Teacher leaders must guide teachers and administrators. Often, administrators see the bigger picture. For example, charter schools in our state can be closed based on test scores. As a teacher leader in a charter school, data is often more important than the individual desires of teachers. It often falls to a teacher leader to explain these intricacies to teachers. Teacher leaders balance the needs of admin with the needs of teachers by listening carefully.

NEED NOT ALWAYS BE RIGHT. A teacher leader must bravely admit their failings. To not always be right means understanding that needs of admin and the needs of teachers must come first. We can be wrong. Being in the middle is a balancing game. We need not always be right to accomplish our goals. Not always being right can broaden our perspective.

A GOOD FOLLOWER. Leaders must be good followers. Really? YES! In keeping with the season of Christmastide, or Twelvetide,  here are three christian followers who grew into notable leaders. Ultimately, we must model followership to model good leadership. Michael Hyatt, @MichaelHyatt provided these examples in his blogpost,
  • Joshua followed Moses for more than forty years before he led the children of Israel into the promised land.

    Elisha served Elijah for ten years before he took up his master’s mantle and went on to perform even more miracles.

    The Apostle Peter followed Jesus for three years—and made a lot of mistakes—before he and his fellow-disciples “turned the world upside down.” 
As I prepare for our next semester of school, I will prayerfully consider Kofi Annan's threefold statement to be open, to be okay with not always being right, and to be a good follower.

Suzanne Rogers, M.Ed.

District Director of Professional development, AP English teacher, ELA Coach and cradle United Methodist.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The Struggle is Real; a struggle against silence

The Struggle is Real; a struggle against silence
The struggle in education is real. Teachers must use their voices to tell the stories of their classrooms. Teachers are the only ones with a clear view of the path ahead. Unfortunately, teachers, all too often, feel silenced by the system. Or, they feel they must only tell the happy stories of education. This is the second post in this series.  Our classrooms may or may not resemble the community surrounding the school. All too often, our schools are an oasis of poor students within a more affluent society being taught by teachers not familiar with the culture of the students. But, what is the purpose of public education?

Affluenza has led many public school supporters to send their children to private school,  to virtual school, and to home school. Today, Alfie Kohn, @alfiekohn,  tweeted this statistic.
Proportion of all US public school students whose families are low-income: In 1989, <1/3. In 2013, >1/2.
All too often, the response to this type of startling statistic is denial. My own parents, born in the early 1930's, simply do not believe this statistic. It is not what they see. It is not what they experience on a day to day basis. In other words, it is not the life they lead. White privilege/affluenza puts blinders on our eyes. In 2015, the National Center for Children in Poverty, @NCCP,  found that 44 percent of the nation’s children live in low-income households, according to 2013 data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2013 American Community Survey. So, our public school systems are educating a higher percentage of low-income students due to the continued white and affluent flight from public schools.

The easy response to this rising statistic is to deny it or claim it doesn't matter to your family, or to your country. But, public education's goal, according to Thomas Jefferson, was to instill a liberty tree in every educated American heart as America's greatest defense against tyranny. (Do you still believe this to be true?)
Take this simple one-question test to determine your belief  published by @TakePart in its article 
"America’s Parents Are Confused About the Purpose of School."  Please read the full article for various poll results.

The purpose of sending children to school is to

A. Help them develop knowledge and critical-thinking skills.
B. Prepare them for citizenship.
C. Prepare them for work.
D. All of the above.

As the United States prepares for changes surrounding the Presidential appointment for Education Secretary, a sound understanding of our common beliefs regarding public education is paramount. Why should schools test to check for progress toward College entrance exams if the majority of those polled think we should be preparing our students for work.

Teachers, please use your voice! Speak to the realities of your classrooms. Engage in public dialogue about your school and about your views of education. Please, struggle against the silence.

Suzanne Rogers


District Director of Professional development, AP English teacher, ELA Coach and cradle United Methodist.