- Bringing Project Based Learning to our Classroom - August 12, 2018
- Keep the Engagement Alive: Start the Year with Purpose - August 5, 2018
- It's Our Fault: A Teacher's Confession - March 18, 2018
- Keeping Your Teaching Real: A Teacher's Role - March 11, 2018
- Sketch Notes in the Elementary Classroom - February 15, 2017
- Teach From the Heart - February 9, 2017
- Who is the Teacher: School or Family? - January 11, 2017
- Dear President Elect Trump, From Your Teachers - November 17, 2016
- Let them Be Children - October 21, 2016
- Print Resources: Great Tools for Kids - October 17, 2016
I have taught in elementary classrooms for 19 years. Every day, every hour, ever minute, every second, decisions are made that impact someone's future. This job is difficult, strenuous, stressful and the best job in the world. Teachers across the nation give their times, talents, money and whole selves to their students and families. It is not a 9-5 job. It is real and the majority of teachers across this nation give more than they have to help their kids. We are not perfect, but we try. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. And we work beyond the confines of the clock, the calendar, the classroom.
Throughout my years of teaching I have taught children from many paths. On a daily basis I make decisions from my profession experience and knowledge to do what is best for those children. I am human, but I always strive to give my children what they need. That is not always what families or children want. I have been screamed at by parents. I have had parents threaten to take me to the Board of Education for report. I continue to teach. I have also received awards, mentored many new teachers as well as pre-service teachers, written for educational magazines, published a book and provided in-service and consultation for educators. I have heard "You can make some of the people happy some of the time. But you can't make all of the people happy all of the time." In education this is exceptionally true.
Educators are teaching your children. Parents want what is best and sometimes that comes with an idea of what is easiest. It is a hard job to lead children to their potential. There is failure along the way. Educators know this. We understand the process of learning. So in response to TIME Magazine's article about teacher tenure, I have a few things to say.
Tenure--the right to keep a job. Every single facet of our economy holds workers who do a poor job. There are quack doctors and bad lawyers. Teachers are not immune to this and there are teachers who fail. But teachers don't want protection for doing poor work. This job is too demanding and stressful for someone to be in the classroom and not love children. An overwhelming majority of teachers work hard, do good things and are striving for excellence in themselves and for their children. In such a personal occupation though, the respect of protection from failing the school board presidents daughter is something to consider. Tenure has a process to have teachers dismissed. A poor teacher can be fired. It happens. The system should protect from gut or emotional reactions as we are teaching children. Teachers deserve the respect to know they are safe from dismissal if a failing grade is given or a personality conflict arises. We are only human.
The Leaders--the person who leads or command a group. Our society has always had a voice in education. Many wealthy people have donated and started programs to follow their vision in education. This new set of leaders, however, come from "a world where data and innovation are king, disruption is a way of life, and the gridlock and rules of modern politics are regarded as a kind of kryptonite to how society ought to be." This is a concern as dialogue is an important part of creative problem solving. You must understand a system to suggest effective change within that system. To offer public education we must have agreed upon rules. You have leaders in classrooms and school districts across this country. To effect change-- start there. Teachers are in the trenches working with our future daily. If you want a new system that will work for children you have answers, you just have to let the teachers have a voice in the leadership.
Change--to make or become different. The classrooms of today are drastically different in instruction, content and grading from classrooms of before. David Welch, a 53-year-old engineer and businessman is quoted in TIME as saying, “But here you have the most important aspect of society, in my mind at least–the ability to educate our children–and it’s incapable of change. It’s failing, and it doesn't want to acknowledge that it’s failing, much less do anything about it.” Education is changing as fast as technology will allow. Instruction has gone from the one room school-house with students ages 5-15 in one room to differentiated instruction. Students are being taught at their level with like-minded peers. Math instruction has shifted to teach number sense and incorporate communication of thought into the work. Cooperative learning and project based learning are being used across the nation to allow students to gain important skills beyond academics. We are learning about coding and technology and sciences that were not even developed 50 years ago. Grading practices have shifted to allow students to be assessed along the way of learning so they are getting what they need. Classrooms look different today, as they should. Schools work and think differently. We are only confined by the limited budgets provided. We work within change daily.
Teachers are under attack as a profession. We are disrespected and looked upon as having a job that could be done by anyone. Teachers want to see what is best for their children occurring in schools. Teachers want to use hands on learning and project based lessons. Teachers want to assess students on meaningful work and help them learn from their failure. Mr. Welsch is further quoted as saying, “I look at this as my responsibility to help and improve the society I live in,” he says. “And I’m willing to fight that battle as long as I have to fight that battle.” And there is the problem. Why do you want to battle teachers? Real change comes about with real conversation. Do you want to change the system? Guess what! We do to.