Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Are Teachers Educated? Worthy of Respect?

I am educated.  I have earned my bachelor's degree in education, completed student teaching with successful seasoned teachers, earned my master's degree specializing in literacy,and taught for seventeen years. On top of all these things, I have a son who will turn twelve this March.

When I began teaching, I naively thought that I could change lives.  I thought that parents, administrators, and other teachers would trust my judgment and intentions.  I thought I would have students who would want to learn and who would have parents who understood the value of education.  I thought my chosen profession would be respected.  Then I was hired in a school, and I realized how wrong I was.

I learned that the teacher is the least important person in the educational process.  I learned that I don't really know anything.  I don't know how to plan a lesson,teach a lesson,discipline a student, grade papers, relate to others, determine whether or not a student is learning, or do anything else related to educating our future leaders. I didn't learn this in a workshop or continuing education course.  I didn't learn this while obtaining my master's degree. I learned this from administrators, society, and  parents.

They taught me by telling me I had to do lesson plans a certain way even though it didn't fit my style of teaching.  They taught me by saying you must complete all of these objectives in a quarter.  All this time I had thought I should make sure students understood and mastered a skill before moving on.  Silly me!  They taught me by telling me not to hug the child who needs affection. Just wait until they mess up and then give them attention. They taught me by telling me no child can receive a zero...that might damage their self-esteem.  Let them have until the last day of the quarter to turn in their assignments.  Don't take off any points either.  Give that kid full credit! They taught me by showing me test scores.  Who knew your entire future should be determined by a test taken over the course of one week...but no, the other thirty-five weeks of school don't matter. Through emails, phone calls, and face to face scolding they taught me that students can't be responsible for their assignments, behavior, attitude, or how they treat others. They taught me by publicizing the teachers who made sick decisions instead of the countless others who have given so much.  They taught me by ignoring my concerns for students and our school.  What great lessons!  I am not sure why I even went to college!

Come on, people!  WAKE UP!!! My goal is to teach your child to read...write...organize...take responsibility...have pride in their work and accomplishments...to become something that will give their lives purpose.  Is that so bad?  Don't we want these types of people heading out into the world?  Do parents really think they are going to be able to call their child's boss and tell them their little buddy didn't get those expense reports in on time because they had the sniffles???  Or that they had other things to do, so there was no way they could complete the multi-million dollar proposal?

Allow teachers to teach.  We are part of the profession due to our love of learning and desire to pass that on to students. It certainly isn't for the money, glory, or fame.  I have yet to see the red carpet rolled out for teachers who have dedicated their lives to the education and moral development of our future.

Administrators...work with us.  Listen to us; we are the ones in the classroom. We are the ones who know what the students need.

Parents...work with us, not against us. Be involved.  Discuss goals, new knowledge, books, current events...encourage planning for the future, continuing education, and self-directed learning.  Support our decisions, ask questions when you are concerned, speak to us with the respect we have earned, and remember that we have twenty-five to thirty students in each class.  Volunteer to read with students and help with our programs...join the PTO/PTA.  Speak positively about our school, students, and teachers.

Society...step into a classroom...better yet, spend a day with a teacher.  When I say a day, I mean just that.  Get there when the teacher does...spend the day...stay until the teacher leaves...join the teacher at their home...go home when they actually finish their work for the night.  Experience it.

I guess I just want to be supported.  Don't we all?  I still love learning and passing that on to the kids.  I love the way their faces light up when they get it.  I love their curiosity.  I love my students.  If only I could stick with the kids and leave the adults out of it. 

Yes, I am educated.  I know how outsiders view me and my profession, but I also know that I am in this for the kids.  I know that somehow I will make a difference in someone's life and that is enough to keep me going a bit longer.

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