Tag Archives: education

The truth about teachers…

21 Dec

There are bad teachers at Yale, I am sure of it.

I would wager that at every school, university, private or public, you are sure to uncover some educators whose intentions may be less than honorable. Perhaps they began as ideological rookies with dreams of changing lives or maybe they just chose a profession, maybe they were even good at it once and stuck with it through the years with no great passion. But this can be said, of course, of most professions; doctors, lawyers, plumbers, accountants, politicians. And yes, teachers.

Now that the political climate for teachers has become tumultuous and some of the country has pointed its fingers at public school teachers as the ones to blame for our failing system, my graduation date has arrived. I now have a Master’s in Education and am certified to teach Elementary and English Language Learners. I was not a teacher. I worked in television production and marketing for almost 10 years before realizing that I wanted to do something more. And I don’t want to do it in a private school or a charter school, I actually want to work in public schools, Title 1 even. I can assure you that I am not doing it for the summer break. That whole two months (that is often exaggerated to three in the media) turns quickly into six weeks as required school retreats, professional development, and cleaning and setting up classrooms for the following year are added into the equation. I also didn’t go back to school for the “easy hours”. When teachers arrive at school, they are immediately on and remain on until the end of the day. So no 30 minutes of coffee and checking emails. No leisurely strolls past the water cooler. No 10 minute walk around the corridor. No long lunch break (20 minutes usually). No bathroom breaks- gosh I only have a year’s experience and already I have experienced holding it for hours. No Christmas bonus.

Guess what? I don’t care so much about tenure or bargaining rights. What I do care about is that people realize that teachers work, and they work hard. I promise. I have seen it first hand as a student teacher. I have seen teachers pull money out of their own pocket to buy books and supplies for their classrooms. I have watched as teachers wished for more for their students, and then made it happen through grants, fundraising and again, just taking money from their own paychecks. I feel like many of the naysayers who are chunking all teachers in to one category of lazy, overpaid and ineffective, are the same ones who may think that a teachers classroom comes fully stocked with paper, posters, a class library, technology, and supplemental materials that link to state standards. Teachers buy these things. Principals pull strings, apply for grants. If the school is lucky, the parents hold fundraisers.

So why do we teach? For me, it is because for years I woke up complacent about my job. And the truth is that it probably didn’t really matter if I showed up.  But education is a field where you are not allowed to be complacent. When you get to school, you see the faces of these students; some neglected, some discipline problems in need of structure, some that admire you for things you don’t see in yourself, some that ask you questions you don’t know and force you to dig deeper, some that inspire you, and all that need you.

I am writing this because as I begin my career in 2012, I want teachers to get a clean slate. A new day just like we provide for our students every time they enter our classrooms. I hope that love and understanding for teachers returns, and not from the students because it never subsided, but from adults, parents, press and government.

There are great teachers out there too, amidst the bad ones. Those are the ones you should remember, those are the ones who are going to save education.

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