Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Monday, April 28, 2008
Friday, April 25, 2008
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Saturday, April 19, 2008
Thursday, April 17, 2008
Monday, April 14, 2008
Thursday, April 10, 2008
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
Sunday, April 6, 2008
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
I think, if someone were to check, they would find that a great many of our teachers graduated in the top 20 % of their classes. In order to be successful in this profession teachers have to be highly--and continually--educated in their fields; they must be a bit of a psychologist, nurse, therapist, referee, coach, writer, planner, secretary, and confidante. In many states, schools have specialists for music, PE, technology, and art. These specialists give teachers some time during the day to check papers and provide feedback, to plan for follow-up or review, to develop new lessons for the 16-20 students in their class. Not our schools. Elementary teachers must be well-versed in all the curriculum areas. We teach everything, to half again as many students, and do all those other things on our own time. This is not the kind of job everyone aspires to.
But this job we love is getting more and more difficult. We are under mounting pressure from above, wanting higher student test scores. Parents also want their children to do well, but are sometimes so mired in their own problems that they can’t do the things their children need. Parents with their own crises find teachers easy targets on which to vent frustration or lay blame. Occasionally, school is the only stable, dependable place for students.
Take any 30 unique individuals, with their 30 separate, wildly-disparate backgrounds; their varying home-lives, far-ranging abilities and interests, and make them learn all the things they will need to know in the same limited time. In addition, be certain you don’t hurt anyone’s feelings, cause anyone to feel inadequate, or assign too much homework. As much as I have loved my years with students, the time and emotional energy required now is surpassing any rewards. If I were starting now, I’m not sure I’d choose teaching again.
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
I know that a lot of people think teaching is a cushy job: hang around a few kids, take long vacations, and earn a paycheck for not a lot of work. After all, how hard can it be to teach 6-year-olds how to read? They’re so sweet and lovable.
Teaching 27 6-year-olds, in one room, takes more patience than any CEO could muster. Knowing how to reach the shy, the aggressive, the neglected, the demanding, the spoiled, the undisciplined, the gentle, and the sensitive with reading concepts is a rare ability. Some will come to school already knowing lots of words and some won’t be able to identify letters of the alphabet. Some will know how to sit quietly, and take turns, and socialize nicely with others. And some will have tantrums when they are frustrated and hit, bite, scream, or throw things. They all should be expected to read on schedule when they leave first grade?
Many people belittle what teachers do. They are convinced that they could do it and, therefore, we should be doing it better. If we did, then we’d be more valuable, more deserving of compensation. We must teach because we can’t do anything else.