Education is not the filling of a pail,
but the lighting of a fire
-William Butler Yeats
Teaching is hard. Lots of people don’t want to admit to that fact or maybe they don’t understand. They think the teacher goes in every day and teaches the same thing as last year figuring if they get it, they get it, and if they don’t, they don’t. And summers off! I suppose that was true enough at one time and yes, I hope that administrators are putting enough pressure on these teachers to get out of the profession. Truth be told, it is a really hard job and now there is deserved accountability for teachers. They have a lot to do. Yes, I know that in some school districts teachers don’t have to work that hard. They have their materials, present their stuff, model, assign the homework, and check for understanding. Kids are semi-respectful and do their work. This is not the case in all circumstances. There are many schools in America where kids come for their own refuge. It may be the most peaceful time they have in their lives, the only meals they get that day, and the only place where some adult acts like they matter. Life is hard for kids; many have lots of trials to deal with: two working parents, or maybe only one working parent, or worse one not-working parent. Perhaps the parent is more concerned about their own life that their child’s.
In addition to the students’ personal challenges, there are learning challenges and a world for which teachers are to prepare students that we don’t really know what the expectations are. Teachers should be daily rethinking their strategies and offering opportunities for growth and the development of critical thought. They need to address each student with energy and seriousness of purpose. It is the education of each individual, and all students must be prepared for the future. Is there any more important purpose?
It can’t be left to the families or someone else. Each and every teacher must take this role in earnest. So, why are teachers disgruntled? The simple answer is more is expected with less. They need support, professional development, and mentorship. Now funding just keeps getting cut, so how is it possible? To do more with a little less, yes that can be done. At this point it is out-of-bounds. We need technology to be cutting edge and how do we pay for that? How can we foster creativity, design and innovation with 10-year-old computers and teachers who are stuck in the mold of the past? We now have to do much more with much less.
So why are they frustrated? Therein lies the answer. Many would take on the challenge and grow and change as the profession requires. Some won’t and many can’t. You can’t keep asking for results and give no support. Simply said.
This country and its citizens–ALL OF THEM – need to support education reform and educational improvement. Today.
What do you think? How is your district making changes?