Wednesday, April 2, 2014

My Point of View: Cut Teachers Some Forgiveness and Gratitude

I wrote and posted the following on a facebook thread conversation and have increasingly felt more strongly about it.  I thought I'd also post it here on my blog. These are my raw feelings at the moment regarding my position as an educator.  Being a teacher isn't only a job for me, it's a passion and hobby.  I love being a teacher.  I view myself as a capable, bright and educated women who could pursue any career I wanted.  In fact, I started my college career with the desire to be a veterinarian, but soon realized a teacher was more my style.  I haven't looked back since.  

The increasing amount of shared FB posts regarding negative examples of education got me a bit fired up this week and here's my response.

We need to remember to work with teachers and not against them. Teachers are people trying to do the best they can with what they have. I spent nearly $1,000 of my personal money to supplement the holes that we're missing in curriculum and to supplement our very tight supply budget, this school year. (That's a conservative estimate) I have 1/2 hour per day to plan for a six hour day in which I'm supposed to bring high energy and engaging lessons. I have 30 min to eat lunch and 15 min. 4 days a week during recess to pee. I spend hours at night and on the weekends planning, making copies and otherwise preparing. I'm held responsible for the learning of 33 students of which every one has unique needs; with or without parent help. Whether they make adequate progress on a single test is a determining factor as to whether I'm a good teacher or not and will soon determine my pay. I am constantly told by everyone without a teaching degree how and what I should teach. I'm so happy to work with parents who come to me with an attitude of "how can we do this together?" vs. an approach of "my kid needs .... and I expect you and this school to make it happen!" It's time as the U.S. we start to say thank you and how can we help rather than blame and find fault. Sorry, it's a bit of a soapbox. I LOVE being a teacher, but it's becoming increasingly difficult to stay positive and do what's right for kids with the barrage of complaints and blame. We must all keep in mind what is right for kids. I believe that to be a common standard of expected learning supported by the funds to expose students to the technology tools and information they will need to become innovators and creators. We have to challenge our students and give them opportunity to struggle and triumph. Lawmakers should respect and value the knowledge and opinions of the teachers for whom they make laws. Parents should become supportive partners rather than distant observers and blamers. As humans in general, I think we forget to take a moment to see the others point of view. We rarely question our doctor when he/she prescribes or diagnoses, yet a professional teacher with training and years of experience is questioned by everyone. As a society, we need to say "help me understand" rather than "you're wrong" I have no doubt that there are educators who make choices that I wouldn't agree with, however instead of plastering FB and media with all the wrong, maybe we could focus on all the good that is happening in classrooms around the U.S.

I love what my friend Bob added to my post.  He's a former band teacher and currently a representative for an educational technology company.  I decided to include his comment as well: 

  1. This is the exception not the rule (Good one Melissa, can I steal that?)
  2. Teachers are HUMAN, they make mistakes too. 
  3. Most teachers use what resources are available, and sometimes it turns out to be a bad resource. Teachers do not have enough time or get paid enough to create all their own resources, or even make sure every single thing is perfect before it goes out. We all make mistakes. 
  4. Would you appreciate this level of scrutiny on your job, especially if you got paid the same (btw, when I was teaching, I was consistently below poverty level, according to the Government)?
  5.  If you know best, then homeschool your kid and quit complaining.
  6. If you are already homeschooling your kid, quit complaining!

I am a wife, mother of 3, and an educator.  I have a B.A. in Elementary Education, an M.A. in Educational Leadership and several endorsements.  In any other occupation, I'd be considered an expert in my field.  I LOVE teaching and pray that we will keep in mind what is best for students; remembering Bob's point, we are all human and need to give each other a little credit and forgiveness.

I'd love to hear your response and opinions in the comments.  
(I'm happy to receive disagreeing points of view that are expressed in a respectful manner.)

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  1. My biggest issue is that most people arguing against the Common Core are actually not against standards. They are against some kind of conspiracy theory, as though having standards is a way of being brainwashed, or they're against things that have nothing to do with standards at all.

    They're against testing, or the ways the standards are being implemented, or the curriculum some schools are using to teach the standards... but NONE of those are truly issues with CCSS. There has been plenty of testing before and even without CCSS, there will still be plenty of testing. The curriculum may have its issues, but that's not the fault of the standards. Schools are doing things you may not like, but it's not necessarily due to CCSS. Most are separate choices.

    Common Core's not perfect, but most people who argue against it don't even know exactly what they're arguing against, and that frustrates the bejeezus out of me.

  2. I applaud your strenth and committment to education. I too spent over 1,000 out of pocket and spend countless hours that could include sleep to make my classroom a better place.

    Looking at the core as a median helps me plan for my goals whether it be a day, week, a month. I aim as high as my students can be stretched not stressed and feel a job well done is a little beyond a years growth. That said, I need to start where my students are and forge ahead. I don't want to just cover it. I want the children to discover it too. I have a few that don"t reach the bar no matter what I do. I do have a few that go beyond and kuddos to them and their family. It is obvious by the performance who has parental inolvement and who relies on pulling up the boot straps and learning how to do it alone. I can't imagine doing anything else even after 29 years. It makes me sad to be defensive and I want that wasted energy invested somewhere positive gains will come. Sunday is tomorrow so enjoy and regroup. Hugs Keeper of the Light and Love of Learning


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