Why Teachers Don't Suck
I'm pretty tired of people talking trash about teachers right about now. Like the dude in this article, stupid people assume they know what they are talking about. I'd like to invite those people into my school and my classroom for a week or so. I'd like to educate them like I do my students: with evidence and experience instead of guesses and stereotypes, politics and evasion.
The problem with this guy and the hoardes like him is that they view the problems we face over-simplistically-- and they are anything but simple. People want to chalk everything up to bad teachers or blame it on needing more investment or training around standardized testing or blame it on needing teacher-proof curriculum.... and blah blah blah. Oh man, the list goes on forever.
Wouldn't it be so easy if all we had to do in order to educate students better was to dump more money into standardized tests or some new curriculum from College Spring Board? Everyone would love that, it would at least be an end to all this maddening, disheartening, bickering. But that's just not what reality is like.
And hey, if de-unionizing would somehow make students smarter or help get rid of the masses of bad teachers infiltrating our educational system, I'd be the first one to propose it. But that's just not what is likely.
What is likely is that the problems we have are multi-faceted in such nuanced ways that it would take a whole host of approaches and strategies to even begin to solve the problem. Yeah, maybe we should spend more money on curriculum or at least curriculum training. Probably a lot of teachers would really benefit from that. And yeah, maybe we should let teachers get fired more easily. I know I've run into a few teachers in my short time in public education who really don't deserve to be teaching anyone anything, ever. I get it; that would be helpful.
But, after you fire some bad guys and buy some more stuff, there will still be students who say things like this nugget I literally just overheard, "My Easter sucked, I didn't get anything." I could spend a whole post just analyzing how awful that statement is and yet it is perfect for the point I'm trying to make: the attitudes of society, parents, and students is the largest bar to student achievement and success I've ever come across. It's removal would be the biggest boon to our educational system and society that I can imagine.
Here's a comic that illustrates part of my point:
It's not the students or parents fault they live in a society that teaches everyone to expect anything they want to just magically appear before them, like consumables and money on Easter, like proper grades without effort on a report card, like easy fixes to an entire system of education. No, it's not their fault. At least, not specifically. But everyone definitely needs to take a deep breath, let it out, and then look in the mirror. What happened to "it takes a village to raise a child"? I think that idea in this society has changed into, "it takes a teacher to raise 150 children per day, with no help from anyone else". And let's fire them if they don't! Stupid teachers....
Here's the run down of my day, a day which I love and cherish and value and would exchange for no other, but nontheless a day in which entirely way too much is asked of me: I am a teacher, I am a coach, I am a life skills expert, I am a counselor, I am a mediator, I am a mentor, I am a child abuse reporter, I am a disciplinarian, I am a planner of curriculum, I am an enricher, I am a teacher of curriculum, I am a grader of curriculum, I am an organizer of a classroom system of movement, I am a bargain finder and tool provider, I am a feedback giver, I am an expert on every single last student's progress and goals and skills, I am a differentiator of instruction for 30 different individuals for two different topics within two hours. And that's just what I can come up with off the top of my head. Who is helping me? No one. But there's plenty working against me.
I've recieved literally no supplies from my school except access to printers and paper. All the tools that my classroom needs like scissors and glue and paper and pencils; that's up to me to provide, unfunded. I've recieved literally no input from any specialists about the 10 or so English Language Learners and Special Ed and 504 students who are put into my classroom as though they are anywhere near the capability level of my other students; that's up to me to figure out and up to me to make additional sets of curriculum. I've recieved literally no help from any parent all year long with any one of my students who are failing or not meeting standard; it's up to me to stay after long hours, giving them extra help, if they even show up to a special session. All of this is dificult to deal with. When you put your all into something and come up against a student who won't try because it is hard and not magically downloaded into their brain, a parent who will make any excuse they can for their child who isn't trying, and a public who won't fund the materials you need in your classroom, that is hard.
But, it feels worse that I've recieved no love from our society, either; after I give everything I have, every single day, to try and help as many students as I can become cognizant, emotionally healthy, functional members of society. Instead, I get blamed and laid off.
I count society as lucky that I keep trying anyway. You all are lucky that I love helping people enough to continue despite all the horror and then, on top of it, deal with getting crapped on by a society that dismisses me in an instant in favor of classrooms packed with even more students so that we can spend more money on a test. I just wish people would think a little deeper about the problems we face before they quickly jump to the hot button topic of the moment in their search for who to blame for the hoardes of unintelligent kids we produce every year.
And I swear to god I will kick in the face the next person who tells me I have too much time off and I'll stop when they tell me an equivalent job in society where you are required to donate a minimum of 10 hours a week just to get by and take classes and courses that you aren't paid for but have to pay for and make LESS than 50K. Try me.