Tag Archives: Teachers

We Don’t Need No Education

 

In a 2016 national survey of college freshman, the number of students who say they will major in education has reached its lowest point in 45 years. Just 4.2 percent intend to major in education compared to 11 percent in 2000, 10 percent in 1990 and 11 percent in 1971. Combine that with poor rates of teacher retention in public schools and I think it’s safe to inform Houston that we have a problem. Baby boomers are leaving the profession and there’s no one coming up to fill those spots.

Anyone care to guess why this is happening?

Let’s start with the fact that we are raising a generation of students who feel entitled and believe teachers are powerless to control them because of litigation threats. Students have little respect for their teachers because their parents show little respect.
Parents don’t want to hear the truth about their child so bad grades are the fault of the teachers and not due to a lack of effort by the student. As a result, grade inflation is sometimes easier than arguing to deaf ears. It must get tiring for teachers trying to raise both the student and the parent. How sad is that?

So why enter a field where salaries fall well behind other professions also requiring advanced degrees?

Why enter a field where student/teacher creativity has now been replaced by standardized testing which changes every few years in order to benefit those marketing the product at the expense of children.

Why enter a field where we make evaluations based on a single test instead of a body of work over a period of months? Because everyone is a great test taker, right?

Why enter a field where teacher bashing has become a popular pastime headed up by some ignorant politicians whose only purpose is promoting their retaliation agenda against a union who decided not to back their election campaigns?

The students entering college today are the generation of no child left behind. They are the ones who remember teachers opening a manual and reading/teaching from it with no sense of creativity allowed. Young people especially in this age of technology, want to feel they can be creative in whatever field they choose to pursue. They’ve already experienced the teaching field from the other side of the desk and they’re not impressed.

Finland probably has the finest education system in the world because in large part, they pay their educators well, respect the profession and allow for creativity while keeping the workload and class sizes low. As a result, their system attracts some of the best students to the teaching field.

Most people think teachers are overpaid with lots of time off, short work days and great benefits. If anyone thinks that’s true, I’d ask you to go up to a dozen or so teachers and ask them if they would encourage anyone to choose the teaching profession today. Considering the perception that many people have of their easy lives, their answers will probably surprise you. If you’re brave enough to stick around they may even elaborate their reasons for you.

We have an education problem in this country that no amount of standardized testing is going to correct. It’s like saying the Johnstown flood could have been prevented with a patch of concrete.

Lets stop the insults, begin holding our children accountable and support ways to educate our children properly. Because as we all know….

a mine es a terble ting to wayste. 

What I Know About Teaching

Those that can, do. Those that can’t, teach.

Those words were written by George Bernard Shaw in the early 1900’s. Aside from being a socialist, my guess is Mr. Shaw never sat in a classroom as a teacher. If he did, he may not have written something so disparaging and ignorant.

I’m not a teacher, though I have family members who are. However, in my second, semi-retired life, I have begun to do some substitute teaching, which, again, is not teaching. But I love kids and thought this might be fun. So what I know about actually working the profession can probably be placed inside a thimble.
I’ve heard countless stories over the years about parents and students. I’ve read comments made by elected officials who are so superficially clueless that it defies logic. I’ve sat in meetings with business leaders who have used this quote to drive home a point, insult the profession or attempt to stroke their own overinflated egos. This quote makes the rounds at parties, in boardrooms and homes. Sadly, it’s made by individuals who don’t have a clue what they’re talking about. Why? Because they’ve never sat in a classroom and unless you’ve done that, you can’t possibly understand.

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You want to make the argument that teachers have two months off in the summer and another couple of weeks off during the school year? That’s true, though I know more teachers who work during the summer than sit at the beach, which is the general perception. The reason? They need to supplement their incomes by teaching summer classes, tutoring, coaching, doing clinics, working in retail, landscaping, or any other number of odd jobs.
Yes, they have a pension, if the system is still there when they choose to retire. But so do almost all government workers. You resent that? You should have chosen differently and not chased the dollar you knew you wouldn’t earn by teaching.
Short work day? You see, that’s where part of the ignorance comes in. Many teachers start at 7 or 8:00 and are there until 5 or 6:00 and then take work home with them. It’s also not unusual for work to be done on weekends or to receive calls from parents after hours. I see them come in each morning and leave each day. Their arms are filled with work.

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I’ve seen teachers sit in a classroom with children who have autism and hold them until they calmed down; gently speaking with them, as if they were their own child.

I’ve seen teachers make themselves look silly in order to make a student laugh or feel better about themselves.

I’ve seen teachers make sure a child who is living in a hotel room with nine other people, care about how they might learn in that type of environment and then provide those students, on their own time, with the extra attention and help they need.

I’ve seen teachers take money out of their own pockets to buy a child a pair of sneakers or provide snacks or lunch during the day for those whose parents didn’t send any.

I’ve seen teachers shave their heads, along with their students, in order to raise money and awareness for cancer.

I’ve seen teachers try to work with a system that is intent on working against providing students the best possible opportunity to learn.

I’ve seen teachers work with students whose parents refuse to provide their child with prescribed medications, creating a difficult environment for an entire classroom.

I’ve seen teachers attempt to reason with parents who refuse to acknowledge hurtful or bullying behavior by their own child.

I’ve seen teachers understand and work with a children whose home life might be fractured and might need an outlet to express their frustrations.

Parents in prison in wealthy school districts, family illnesses, time dedicated to after school clubs, parents who are in denial about their child…the list goes on.

So you all want a piece of this…times twenty in each classroom?

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Are there bad teachers? You bet. You want me to list the number of criminals in the business profession? Or any profession for that matter? Come on, lets not go there.

I’ve come to understand this one point, in the short time I’ve been a substitute. Teachers don’t teach because they want summers off or have a pension. And they certainly don’t teach for the money. It’s not that great. They chose this profession because they love kids. Your kids. It’s the only way they can do this job. You have to love kids.

So instead of giving them a hard time or making a derogatory remark, try to understand and see beyond whatever distorted perceptions are out there. I worked in the business world a long time and I understand why people want to teach.

It’s much more rewarding teaching children than working with adults who act like children.

The other day I was teaching a fourth grade PE class when a group of 4-5 girls walked up to me. I’ve been a substitute in their class several times in the past six months. Anyway, they were all giggling and then one of them asked if they could buy me. After I stopped laughing, I asked what they thought I was worth. They looked at each other for a moment, and then one of them said…priceless?

That’s when I knew I should have been a teacher.