Teaching, 30 Years of My Life
Teaching Thirty Years of My Life I think I wanted to be a teacher because I thought it was important. I wanted to do something important. I stayed teaching because much of the time it was fun, and I was I never bored! Think about the times you have More...
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Monday, December 1
Publisher: Xlibris Corporation LLC
Teaching Thirty Years of My Life I think I wanted to be a teacher because I thought it was important. I wanted to do something important. I stayed teaching because much of the time it was fun, and I was I never bored! Think about the times you have watched a little kid do something miraculous, amazing, or hilarious. Kids are fun to watch! They surprise you and keep you young. You cannot help but remember the good and hard times of growing up without actually having to do it over. The flip side to this is the number of times you may have been annoyed with your own child, teenager, adult daughter or son and of course the times you were so angry you couldn't function? Well, multiply that feeling by seventy-five kids each year for thirty years. I'd like to say a thing or two about state and federal mandated tests. Actually, I'd like to say a lot. Thus far, no one has asked for my opinion, but here it is! The feds and the states want the public schools to be accountable. Our society wants assurances the tax dollars they spend will produce educated kids. I get it! Side note: The conspiracy part of my brain cannot help but wonder if the anti-public school fringe has found a way to target the public school system and reduce tax dollars going to this endeavor. Is it possible the people doling out the funds and the mandates for public schools are hoping for failure? Or maybe they just have no clue as to what is needed to educate all of America's children (not just a very few privileged children)? All our children must receive a great education if America wants to remain a worldwide powerhouse. It's amazing to me all the talk about evaluating teachers on student test scores, especially if that measurement is based on an arbitrary cut score; 80 percent, pass, 79 percent, fail. Students are not piece parts. Students cannot and should not be measured like bolts on an assembly line; in-tolerance, out-of-tolerance. People are multi-dimensional. A test will never tell us all that a child knows or doesn't know. In the kindest words, this idea of measuring students and evaluating teachers on a single, high-stakes test is very misguided. More to the point, this is a really stupid idea and a very dangerous practice! Whatever happened to the notion "All kids can learn, but not always at the same time or same rate." When did we ever want people in America to be the same? We all benefit from our differences! When I look over and reflect on the variety and diversity (new buzz word of the decade) of my fellow teachers, not one of us is like the other. Our teaching styles are vastly different. We relate to students differently. We relate with each other differently. We all work together to teach and maximize our students' time with us. I might be less annoyed if student improvement was used as a measure of teacher effectiveness. Even this approach has major flaws. A teacher has a student for nine months. In my case, students are thirteen or fourteen years old. They have had thirteen or fourteen years of prior experiences and baggage before getting to me. Five of those years, school was not even a part of their lives. Research tells us when kids come to school in kindergarten the variances are huge. The thought is, as a school, we should be able to narrow the variances. What actually happens is these variances increase. Is the school or the teachers responsible for this? No! What is going on? Teachers usually have students for about six to seven hours a day and 180 days a year. In the state of Kansas this equates to at least 1116 hours each year. Even if we as a nation ever went to year-round school, the number of days probably wouldn't increase significantly; the days would just be spread out. This might help, might not. Most of the research I've read is not conclusive one way or the other. Time allocated for school learning amounts to just under twenty percent of the hours in a year, 365 days. Teachers can teach