A small group of teachers were energized by learning from one another—until the learning was mandated.
Four years ago, as a brand-new science teacher, I was working in a demanding, urban charter school. My days were endless: Wake up at 5:00, start my hour-long commute at 6:30; start my teaching duties at 8:00; teach until 4:00 with only a half-hour for lunch (during which I had to supervise the lunchroom); stay after school for extra help and meetings until 5:30. Once I made it home, sometimes as late as 7:00, I would start grading and planning for the next day.
Teaching was no cakewalk. Some of my students strained my capacity for patience and compassion. After pouring all of my creativity nightly into planning engaging lessons, I would struggle to get my lessons to take off. Even with only 20 students in the room, it takes incredible energy, skill, focus, and agility to manage teenagers' individual needs.