What do you think about the following statement?
“Unless our goal is societal stagnation, we need to encourage creativity and excellence, not only in our students, but in our educators as well.”
This statement stood out to me. I remember thinking as a teacher how sad it was that some of my colleagues were not into teaching. There are two kinds of teachers, the ones that will do anything and everything to make learning exciting and attractive, and then there are the ones that don’t.
I began teaching during the implementation of No Child Left Behind (NCLB), which as we now know was designed to leave most kids behind, but I digress. During that time, I worked with several teachers that were just not interested in a new teaching policy and really, quite frankly, many were just not even interested in being successful teachers. It was hard to watch and be a part of.
That said, there were bright some spots. There were teachers who strived to be excellent, those who went above and beyond to capture the attention of their students. Specifically, I remember a teacher who would spend hours getting his lesson plans ready up to and included strategies to engage the two or three students who were the hardest to engage. He was amazing. There were other teachers like him. Those teachers inspired me. I know that I can say that despite the new parameters of NCLB, the somewhat scripted curriculum, and the very limited resources that were available, I was a good teacher and enjoyed success in the classroom.
That was not the case for some of my colleagues. There were a lot of bitter teachers — teachers that were uninspiring, unsuccessful, and in many cases just downright mean. When I say mean, I am referring to mean spirited, not disciplinarian mean. These teachers were not successfully educating their students. I witnessed this for several years, just in my little section of the world. I knew that this was happening in thousands of schools all across the country. Eventually, I left teaching because I felt I was condoning the spiraling downfall of the public education system by staying in it. There were other factors, but let’s save institutional racism and the school-prison pipeline for another day.
Personally, I would struggle with the knowledge that my own children, also in the middle school level were enjoying a completely different educational experience in a district just five miles east of where I was teaching. As a parent, I had insisted on that for my children.
So, when I read the article How America is Breaking Public Education in Forbes on why public education is failing, it spoke to me. The author, in my opinion, is not wrong. We need effective, caring teachers, and teachers need to love teaching. There are too many teachers in classrooms right now that have no business teaching your children. We need to speak out when we encounter them. Unfortunately, there is not much that can be done because of teacher contracts and the protections that bad teachers enjoy and keep them employed. On the other hand, if you ever wondered why most charter schools, or magnet school have better educational outcomes, the author pinpoints the reason, excellent and creative teachers. Charter schools provide greater autonomy that allow teachers to be creative with their students. It’s not a coincidence.
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