Nothing like paying for a Masters Degree in Education and graduating with little or no desire to teach – at least not in our school system. I read an article this morning that pretty much sums up why I don’t want to teach at all, and why many great teachers and administrators are leaving the profession. “What teachers really want to tell parents” highlights some of the issues that today’s teachers face, but as usual what blows me away are the comments under the article that explains what the problem really is. Ignorance.
While studying Education in graduate school I learned all the laws and technical stuff that teachers face that you don’t hear about on the 6 o’clock news. Too many people (parents especially) don’t understand the “No Child Left Behind” laws and what they have done to our education system as a whole. The ‘outside’ is focused on test scores, state and national standings – that compare the U.S. to countries that actually value education (so we will NEVER measure up no matter how many laws we pass that claim to improve education), and a kind of universal disdain for teachers.
I used to get really bad ear infections as a kid. In Kindergarten I remember having a really bad earache and my Mom was at work so couldn’t come get me right away. My teacher – sent the rest of the kids in the class out to recess (with an aid) and she stayed in the classroom with me and held me until my Mom got there. Held me. To comfort me. Today – she would have been fired for that.
In 3rd Grade I had a teacher that I LOVED. She took the time to step in and help my Mom – she took me to the beach for my birthday (if a teacher did this today they would be fired without a second thought). I was a hyper, smart, unmotivated student even in third grade and I had a teacher that took the time to help me focus on what I was good at instead of focusing on my frustrations. She let me research stuff that I liked and then had me write reports on it. In today’s environment, I would have been put on medication for ADD/ADHD, I would have been put in special ed, and my teacher would have been fired. The only “A” I ever earned in school (until college) was in 3rd Grade and I got that mark in “reference skills.” I am 40 years old now and my favorite thing in the world to do is read things and write about them.
In 8th grade I had an Art teacher who quite literally saved my life. By the 8th grade I was stealing anything that wasn’t nailed down. I was trying drugs, skipping school, drinking, and I was a little bit of a bully. This man took an interest in me and invited me to a church youth group. He invited me to his home to spend time with his family. He hugged me, he taught me, and he offered a way for me to get off the path I was on and redirected my attention to more positive pursuits. Again, today – he would have been fired.
Do you see a trend here? The teachers that really care about kids, get fired for it. Teachers aren’t just people who stand in front of the class and lecture. They are people who feel for the kids in their classrooms. They are people who put aside their own families sometimes for the good of their students. They are people who see a need in the world (or their classrooms) and strive to make it better. Thankfully, My Mom, unlike most parents today – appreciated the help. I am sure it bothered her on some level that I wanted to spend more time at my teachers house than my own – but in reality I think deep down she knew that she needed some help with me and I could have been out doing much worse things than having dinner with a ‘real family’ – something she knew I craved, or going to church.
That is just the personal impact teachers have on kids. That doesn’t even tap into the personal resources they use to make the classroom better. The people who complain about their salaries are seriously ignorant (I can’t find a nicer way to put that). People complain that they only work 9 months out of the year (which is false), but even if that was true – they also only get paid for those 9 months. They have to take less home each month to ensure they get a paycheck through the summer. That 40k salary that everyone thinks is so high – well I would really love to hear what people think they should be making. No one is coming up with any solutions for these overpaid people – just complaints. Lower the salaries for teachers and see how quickly our education system goes from bad to worse. Just look at college professors – community college professors make a lot less than the professor teaching the same class at Harvard. We aren’t complaining about his salary, and yet we fail to see the correlation between the salary and the quality of the teacher and of the education students receive. We also fail to acknowledge that many teachers don’t care about making loads of cash they just want to be able to have what they need for their classrooms – even if it comes out of their own pocket.
The article mostly talked about parents – and they really are at the point where they are doing more harm than good, and then they blame the teacher rather then looking in the mirror. The majority of Americans (parents especially) have no idea the amount of B.S. teachers have to include in their lesson plans. They also have no idea that teachers aren’t the ones selecting the curriculum – they only implement it. They are restricted not only in what they teach – but how they teach it. School curriculum’s today have so much packed into them that many children won’t even have the time to learn it, let alone master anything – and then parents complain about homework because it interferes with ballet class, soccer practice, karate class, gymnastics, and ‘fun time’. They make excuses for their children instead of looking at what needs to happen then complain that their kid doesn’t know how to read.
Our education system needs a complete overhaul and until that happens, I won’t be a teacher (although I would be a really good one). Blaming the teacher – the one who gets paid the least, has no control over the curriculum, is the only one who actually spends time with the students and knows what they really need and want, spends their own money on your kids, and can get fired for ANYTHING; well, blaming them isn’t the solution. Teachers, just because they are the face of education does not mean they are at fault for its failure.
To all the teachers out there: THANK YOU! I know you don’t hear it enough.