- Teaching in a Pandemic: Help Teachers, Help You - February 2, 2021
- The Importance of Feedback in Distance Learning - October 9, 2020
- What a Teacher Wants: One Teacher's View - March 25, 2018
- Artist is Not a Dirty Word - March 18, 2018
- The Death of Reflection in English/Language Arts Classrooms - March 9, 2018
- More Than A Teacher - March 4, 2018
- Real Teaching Resolutions - January 5, 2017
- 23 Times I have Questioned My Sanity While Teaching - September 7, 2016
- Part 3: Adventures in Real Word English/Language Arts - Let Them Be Great - August 23, 2016
- Part 2: Adventures in Real World English/Language Arts: Making Them Care - August 4, 2016
I knew I was getting old when in my fifth year of teaching I was watching "Saved by the Bell" and I thought, “Geez, these kids are never in class and where are the teachers?” It was one of those moments that always stayed with me. It seems in media, there are only three types of teachers: horrible teachers that corrupt the youth of America and are only there for a paycheck, clueless teachers that are outsmarted by middle and high school students on a daily basis, or the “savior” teacher that inspires a group of students and changes their entire lives for the better. These stereotypes have skewed the public's view of an educator’s career.
Clearly teachers do not intentionally enter the classroom to ruin the youth of America. We all love kids and want better for them. Unfortunately, “Local teacher raises student achievement by five percentage” does not get as many hits as “Local teacher filmed telling off a student.” This is our reality. Everyone has an off day, we all say things we shouldn’t or do things we shouldn’t, but a teacher is utterly destroyed if they do. Most people would say, “Well, you work with children, you should be more careful.” What do we know about children? They push and push to see what they can get away with and we all have a breaking point. Does that make us bad people? No. When you have a bad day, does that make you a bad person? No. But the media needs “likes” and “views” and there is nothing more exciting than seeing a good person fall from grace and a teacher is a good person.
I deal with teenagers so I can only write from this perspective. They think we are clueless. On television shows, schools apparently let students hangout in the hall, dress how they want to, and the teachers are virtually nonexistent. In reality, our students are in class more than they are in the hall, adhere to a strict dress code, and there are always teachers around. Always. Does this mean our students aren’t trying to get away things? Absolutely not. They are trying to cut class, copy assignments, sag their shorts a little lower, and plagiarized an essay on Transcendentalism from a professor from Cambridge. We are not clueless as television portrays us to be. We swap stories just as our students swap ideas out how to our smart us. While we cannot catch all of them, I assure you 90% of their high jinx are stopped.
We want to be John Keating from "The Dead Poet’s Society" and we want to be Erin Gruwell, the teacher who wrote Freedom Writers. We want to inspire a group of students so much they write books and film movies about us. We are heroes to our fifteen hundred students every day. We have small victories and fight our battles privately. We inspire our students and sometimes they don’t even tell us we did until years later. And honestly, sometimes just making it to the last bell without losing it is a victory. We are extraordinary and inspiring, those rare stories that sweep entire nation from time to time should not make us feel like we aren’t doing our job. There are stories about our students and situations that would make wonderful movies, but some things are meant to be kept secret, just for ourselves.
Media tries to paint a picture of what a teacher is and what they should be, but only we can paint the true picture. Our pictures are painted the smiles, the laughter, and the happy tears of our students, and not everyone wants to see these paints or even “gets” what is in them. They are abstract art that is beautiful in its own way and not everyone has to understand it, only you.