I’m linking up today with Mama Kat and her weekly Writer’s Workshop.The prompt I’ve chosen to respond to today is:
What is one pet peeve that shouldn’t drive you crazy, but does?
I decided to become a teacher when I was in Grade One. That’s First Grade for you American folks. I was six years old when I knew that I wanted to be just like Ms. Lysack. She was my teacher and the epitome of everything good, kind, caring and fun. She has made a lasting impression on me after all these years. Ms. Lysack was a brunette, probably in her mid twenties at the time, sported the trendy mushroom haircut of the 70’s and played the guitar. She had the voice of an angel. What I remember most about her, besides all the boys being madly in love with her, was how she made each and every one of us feel special. In her eyes, we were all superstars!
I went into teaching because I couldn’t think of anything else in life I wanted to do more than to work with children. I wanted to teach kids and make a difference in their lives. Over the years, I have learned more from children than I have from adults. They have taught me about unconditional love, friendship, humility, motivation, dedication, passion, hope, aspirations, self-esteem and … the list goes on. Teaching has been nothing short of rewarding for me. The children keep me young and motivate me to be a better version of myself. Honestly, they complete me.
It comes as no surprise to anyone, I’m sure, when I say that I am disappointed every time I here a criticism or blame put forth to teachers as a group. Year after year, teachers continue to be blamed for the downfall of our education system. They are continually blamed when children are not reading, writing or able to think mathematically. They are singled out as a group of professionals who care more about pay scale increases than they do about the students they teach. They are accused of not fulfilling the requirements of their jobs as educators. They are even blamed for not being able to help or “fix” students who have serious behaviour issues. Really? When did parents become liberated from the responsibility of teaching their own children about rules, manners and respect? Actually, a better question is when did teachers become responsible for parenting the students they are suppose to teach? Don’t get me wrong readers, not all teachers are wonderful and infallible. I know this. As with any profession, you will always find a lemon among a bunch of apples. After all, no person is perfect. Most teachers, however, really do care about the students they teach and really work above and beyond the expectations of their job title.
Why is it that people think being a teacher is easy? Why are teachers often referred to as high-paid babysitters? What is easy about spending 6 hours a day with 28 plus children, five days a week? I think we need to open our eyes to the fact that teachers are not just educators to their students, they also act as nurses, counselors, psychologists, mediators and parents for them. Students get hurt, teachers take care of them. Students get into conflicts with friends, teachers counsel them. Students deal with life changing events such as parents divorcing or the loss of a family member, teachers support them emotionally. On a daily basis, teachers make sure their students eat their snacks and lunch, wear their coats outside when it’s cold, remind them to wipe or blow their noses and to do their homework. I’m just touching on the basics here. I could go on. Teachers are not teaching cookie cutter children either. Students come to teachers from a variety of different backgrounds. Some come from broken homes, some from lower socio-economic backgrounds, some with learning disabilities, some with diagnosed behavioral issues and some children who have experienced more turmoil in their lives than I have in my 40 years. In addition, teachers have to take into consideration that all children learn in different ways. Teachers cannot teach all children the same way. Some children are visual learners, others auditory learners, others tactile learners, some are multi-sensory learners and some students need a special plan of instruction to meet their educational needs. Teaching is not simple.
Year after year, money is taken away from the school districts. Education cut-backs have become such common practice that no one is surprised when each year less money is allocated to schools for programs. We expect it. In the end, who is blamed for these cut-backs? Teachers. The reason we blame them ? We pay them too much money. They keep wanting wage increases. Ask any teacher and they will tell you that they would take smaller class sizes or limits to class size over salary increases any day. Why? They want smaller class sizes so they can offer your children smaller, more individual attention and instruction. They want to provide your children with the best learning experiences possible. The larger the class, the more challenging the teaching becomes, the thinner you spread the teacher, the less time there is for the teacher to get to each and every child to give them the individual attention they so rightfully deserve. Are limits ever placed on class sizes? No. Why not? We would have to hire more teachers if we did that. Let the teachers we have deal with the challenges of having a large class. Think about it though. As a parent, wouldn’t you rather the government find ways to add money to school budgets to make sure schools have access to the best resources, teaching tools and the technology needed to ensure that students are guaranteed the best education possible? Wouldn’t you want to add programs to schools, enrich the collection of teachable resources, update technology and in-service teachers so they, too, continue to be life-long learners? How can school districts be expected to run properly and provide the service the government expects them to provide if they are forever cutting back?
It. Makes. No. Sense.
Now, society wants to make teachers more accountable for what they’re doing in the classrooms by basing their pay on the provincial test scores of their students. They want to do this even though …
“Testing experts warn that such ratings are likely to be both inaccurate and unstable”. “There are many reasons why students do well or poorly on tests and teachers feel they are unfairly blamed when students get low scores while the crucial roles of family and the students themselves are overlooked.”
When the testing experts are telling us this, why are we questioning it?
And now I breathe … because if I don’t stop, I never will.
Maybe you just have to be in the profession to truly understand all the hard work that goes in to teaching children. It’s far from babysitting. I feel very blessed to be doing what I do and even luckier to be at a school where the kids are sweet and fun, the parents supportive and involved and have colleagues by my side who are worthy of praise for their talents and collegiality.
What are your thoughts on teachers and our education system?