Slice of Life 2021 Day 8: Why the Soapbox?

Today marks Day 8 of the Slice of Life challenge. Join me as I work to write every day in March – and beyond!

My blog is called “Ed Soapbox” for a reason.

Soapboxes. Ideas we feel SO STRONGLY, we just need a box to stand on and shout it out to the world. And friends, I have a LOT of them. Especially when it comes to teaching and learning.

My position calls for me to do a lot of talking and meeting with my colleagues, and they know it is VERY easy for me to step up on my soapbox about any number of things. All it takes is just a little something to wind me up and set me in motion. I’m guessing it’s pretty entertaining to watch, just because I get so keyed up about things. I try to restrain myself, because I don’t want to be the one yammering on or get preachy. I can recognize an eye roll when I see it.

Still. Here is an incomplete list of all the things you don’t want to get me started on:

<< clears throat >>
<< takes a sip of water >>
<< steps on up >>
<< inhales deeply >>

Why emotional learning is 90% of what we do
Why gifted kids need each other
Why we need to talk about people who don’t look or live like us
Why expectations that leadership has of teachers creates classrooms where everyone’s afraid
Why teachers need the freedom to teach as they see fit
Why people are much better at math than they give themselves credit for
Why kids need to read what they want and write what they want
Why we need to consider poor behavior as a lack of skills rather than discipline
Why kids need to understand themselves better
Why we need to let go of control sometimes in our classroom
Why we need to listen more
Why we need to stop judging parents of kids who don’t behave
Why kids seem to show a lack of remorse for poor choices
Why kids need to understand place value so darn much
Why teachers need to open their doors more
Why teachers need to close their doors sometime
Why schools work just like giant classrooms

See? All I had to do was turn on the tap and get it flowing. You can’t see it, but I’m sitting up straight, my shoulders are tensed and my blood is PUMPING. And I’m just getting STARTED.

All because of this fierce belief I have in children, in my fellow teachers, in my families, in education itself.

So yes, I know that it’s fun to watch Lainie sometimes as she goes on a rip and tear. I’ll admit it’s kinda entertaining. I’d rather be the subject of an eye roll than lose the intensity of these beliefs.

<< steps back down >>

Published by Lainie Levin

Mom of two, full-time teacher, wife, daughter, sister, friend, and holder of a very full plate

33 thoughts on “Slice of Life 2021 Day 8: Why the Soapbox?

  1. Please add— Why we need to stop judging parents of kids who don’t thrive at school. It’s one tiny little pivot from what’s already on your list, but I *am* that parent and work SO HARD. It hurts every time I hear my colleagues make assumptions about the parents or homes of similar students.

    I will stand right behind you clapping and agreeing on this entire list.

    1. I feel you 100% on that one. As the mother of a kid (two, really,) who was often labeled “that kid,” I’ve had to speak up in the staff lounge on more than one occasion because I hear the judgments my colleagues make about “those parents.” Well…*I* am THAT parent. So let’s stand. Let’s clap. Let’s shout!

  2. I have ed soapboxes too. Some of yours are some of mine.

    RELATED: I was just talking to a friend of mine, who lives overseas, about book deserts in homes. It’s a real problem at her kids’ school and even though there’s money to buy books for a school library, there’s POLITICS behind building it. That makes no sense to me! (Don’t get me started.)

    1. Ohhhh absoLUTELY. All children need access to books. Good books. And lots OF THEM! As for the politics behind building libraries, I’ve seen the horrid, horrid things that go on in city and county council meetings. Sigh.

  3. If there was nothing we were passionate about how sad it would be. Things wouldn’t get done. Those who need them would have advocates behind them. People need to get emotional about what they truly believe in. Nothing wrong with that.

    1. Absolutely! And my hope is that my presence will keep people in touch with THEIR more idealistic selves. A girl can dream…

  4. “All it takes is just a little something to wind me up and set me in motion.” I say, BRAVO to this! Thank goodness your school has you and your ed soapbox at the ready. I love your list!! The one that really shouts at me is smack in the middle: “Why we need to consider poor behavior as a lack of skills rather than discipline” – oh, yes, yes, YES!

    1. Thank you! And…ALL the yes on the lack of skills. As someone who believes in repetitions to mastery, it’s helped shape how I see gifted kids (and hopefully, how others see them): that while some kids may need 30 repetitions to learn 7×8, other kids may need 30 repetitions to learn how to ask to be let into a game. (See? back onnit again. Sigh.)

    “SAY SO”
    “C’MON NOW!”

    I love it!

  6. It’s funny because I am kind of the opposite. I don’t speak up nearly enough. Hardly at all, actually. But when I got to your list I was like – Yes, YES – PREACH – MHMM – Oh Yeah! and on and on. (I literally just looked up at the last comment and saw I am now part of your choir to preach to) – I need to be a little more like you I think. More assertive. It’s scary but i feel like once you flip that switch it stays flipped for the better. Thanks for the inspirational nudge!

    1. It’s interesting, because I am VERY opinionated, especially in my writing. I am not generally this forceful about things that I think I’ll upset people with. So, sometimes I’m super fierce about it, sometimes…I need to get braver. =)

  7. Wait for it…. Why people are much better at math than they give themselves credit for? I still feel I’m a terribly awful math teacher. Step up on that box again – I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. 😉

    1. All right. Maybe it’s the subject for another blog post, BUT. It’s stuff like this: we’ve known fractions since we were 3. We know that parts have to be equal to be fair, and we know that the more people we have to share with, the less we get. Stuff like that. It’s mathematical thinking that we don’t give ourselves credit for. That’s my tip of the iceberg =)

  8. While you tell this with your characteristic wit, the fierceness of your beliefs – our beliefs, for I stand with you on every one, even math!- rings loud and clear. Your statement of beliefs should be prominently displayed in every room where decisions are being made about educating children.

    I may hang it in my conference room at school.

    Seriously. Once we start using it again.

    And, I wouldn’t wind you up on purpose but – this energy is perfectly channeled! Thank you for your voice, passion, and courage. We just need more of you, everywhere, Lainie.

    1. Thanks! I have LOTS of statements about beliefs. The one I’m proudest of, actually, is the one I first wrote when I went into teaching. Reading it again, it still resonates. I’m proud of that. I’m proud I’ve maintained my moral compass despite this world trying to pull me into cynicism. Thanks, as well, for the encouragement and validation. Nice to know that my shouts into the void find ears and minds and hearts.

  9. 12/17. That’s my score. I would proudly stand up on my soap box next to yours (6 feet apart) & be raising my voice with you. Why kids need to read what they want and write what they want is a big one for me. I want them reading. I don’t want them to view it as a trip to the dentist. They always seem so shocked when I tell them go get the book YOU want to read. Not the book that is within your reading level. I actually stopped doing that after the 2nd semester of my first year. Their love for reading skyrocketed after that.

    1. Come! Come! Set up your box and we’ll shake the rafters! And yes, I can add a whole other set of soapboxes about READING levels and reading choices and reading responses and and and…ok. time to take a breath again. =))

  10. Lainie, I wish I had as much courage as you but believe me when I say I’m growing and learning the rules of the road. I love how you ended this piece… no eye roll will intimidate you. Stay passionate

    1. Thanks, Vickie! It’s easy for me to be passionate about this stuff. When it comes to kids, I’m all for speaking my mind. Other stuff, I wish I could draw on that same courage.

  11. Lainie, I’ve always enjoyed the name of your blog! There are so many things to get on a “rip and tear” about, and many of them are important. Keep advocating, and may we all have the strength and courage to continue to do so as well.

  12. We are so much alike, Lainie! I have been in countless meetings where my intensity as a student advocate (about many of the same things you listed) got the best of me. I know I am not liked by all of our school personnel, and I’ve come to accept that. There is a lot to be questioned in our educational systems and I am passionate about it for the students’ sake. Keep it up girl! I’m right there with you!

    1. Thanks! YES. There is EVERYTHING to question about our educational system, and I’m going to keep doing it until I can’t. As for me, I think my convictions earn me respect among colleagues because I spend much of my time advocating for them. So…maybe it’s my administrators who have me on their dart boards….?

      1. I did it for a long time and was dismissed for much of it. Administrators were some of my most tenacious adversaries. Somehow when they say, “we must meet the needs of all children” they do not include the gifted ones. Like doing something to support talented and gifted students is taking away from what is done for others……rubbish! I have so many stories about my student advocacy, I’ve often thought of writing a book about it! I am glad your still fighting the good fight…Thank you!

      2. YES! I was lucky, in one of my districts, for a few brief shining moments, to work under a student services coordinator who saw gifted ed simply as part of the MTSS model. Sigh.

      3. Oh, that would have been so nice! I see gifted ed as part of the same spectrum as special ed….just the other end. Both ends need services. It’s too bad one end is funded and one (gifted ed) is not in many states, including where I live (WI).

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