Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Everybody Loves Teachers

I am a teacher.  Everybody loves me.

I became a teacher so I wouldn't have to work that hard and would get "summers off".  I always wanted to become a teacher so I could promote my own personal agenda and indoctrinate the students who are trapped in my classroom. I vote democratic and only support candidates that raise taxes.  Once I got a job teaching I joined the union so that I could get raises without doing more work.  After three years I was able to get tenure.  I now know that I can do whatever I want and don't have to worry about losing my job. I can ride the desk for 27 years and get my fat pension or as I like to call it my golden parachute.   This is key because I was in the lower third of my graduating class in college and am pretty lazy.  Now the job is just showing up each day and I really don't care too much about my students.  I just promote them to the next grade and don't place too much value in what they did and did not accomplish and learn in my class.  I tried other jobs.  But you know what they say.  Those that can, do.  Those who can't, teach.   I just don't want to be held accountable.  All I have to do is assign the kids a bunch of homework and if they don't learn it is their fault.

The paragraph above shows the mindset of those who hold the worst case impression of what I am.  I cannot say that at various moments in my career I have not been guilty of some of these thoughts but I can say safely they are not me.  It seems that in our technology heavy, impatient throw away world, the status of the teacher has diminished to such a degree that many say they are no longer even necessary.  Maybe so.  But if this is true than we must also dispense with many other roles in our society and the effect would not be good.  

Teachers do not perform life saving surgery, arrest bank robbers or feed the hungry (usually).  We are not engineers, bankers or mechanics.  Our contributions are much less tangible and far less immediate. But before we toss those in the profession under the bus never to return, we might be wise to pause and consider their world and in particular the world in their absence.  Like so many others Bankers, Engineers and even gardeners, they do jobs others cannot.  They work with people.  Not money, not machines, they don't sell stuff or fix what's broken-- public school teachers facilitate the development of young people.  Remember that public schools take in all children.  They deal daily with the problems that the rest of society isn't always willing to address.

Students arrive at the doorstep sometimes well prepared, sometimes not.  Sometimes well-fed, but sometimes hungry.  Some of them are angry and impacted by factors we have little control over.  Regardless, none of this is an excuse.  When they do arrive they are met by teachers. Some good, some not so good.  Frankly, all of us could use a little help with the problems kids deal with that aren't related to school, because in the end, their ability to succeed will impact the future for all of us.    

"I love Teachers"   "No Governor, I love teachers"
I viewed the Presidential Debate as background noise to my grading and threw in some of my Mystery Science Theater 3000 style commentary at various points.  My wife would prefer I didn't do this but I can be quite witty("We have boats that go underwater? AWESOME!").  My quick Google search yielded that the word teacher was used 28 times.  As the two candidates wrapped up Moderator Bob Schieffer led them to closing statements with "I think we all love teachers."

If everybody loves me then why don't they trust me as a professional?  Why don't they listen or even ask about my opinions on education reform?  Why don't they listen when I say I am overworked and feel unsupported?  Why don't they listen when I say that standardized tests have had a detrimental effect on the way a generation of kids learn?  Why don't they listen when I suggest changes to how we do business?  Why don't they understand their rhetoric on education is hurtful and demoralizing?  Why don't they acknowledge, they and most other decision makers in fact know very little about teaching, the day to day experiences of educators and what might be working and what might not?  Why don't they recognize the meaning of the word "public' school?  Why don't they see what they and others are doing is not helping but hurting?  Why do so many people(Chuck Norris, President Obama, Governor Romney, Interest Groups) make statements with the disclaimer "I Love Teachers?"

If you love me, you sure have a funny way of showing it.

1 comment:

  1. You took everything I was thinking at that moment that led to a grumpy tweet and expressed it perfectly. They sire have a funny way of showing love.