When we hear that teachers are to blame for the demise of our schools and for the lack of education that our children receive, many of us who are teachers begin to get defensive and then angry. But what if what we’re hearing — this generalized response to our public education problems in the US — is right? What if it really is the teachers’ fault?
My teaching career began in 2000. I was beyond excited to decorate my bulletin boards, make my rules chart, and put my name on the door. I had great ideas, late nights, and happy students. Over and over, I pushed myself to be the best I could be.
But does everyone do that?
The answer, sadly, is no.
My school system provided awesome support for our ILTs (Initially Licensed Teachers), and I was lucky enough to have some really great mentors along the way. When professional development was available, I soaked up what I could and tried to ignore the snorts and snuffs of those around me who were angry to be sitting in what they deemed a pointless workshop.
I bettered myself with a Master’s Degree and National Board Certification. The UNCC Writing Project taught me self-reflection, good writing instruction, and better all-around teaching. I pushed myself all the time, and I still do. But I could be pushed harder. More could be and should be expected of me and of the teachers around me.
We are becoming stagnant in too many ways. One reason is because we resist change. If it worked before, won’t it keep working? (The answer is no to this one, too.) So, yes. Teachers are to blame.
But so are the administrators who don’t take the time to stand in our classroom and coach us.
So are the school board members who have no clue what’s really going on in our classroom and who have never taught a day in their lives.
So are the parents who send their children to school expecting teachers to fix whatever problem they are too lazy, apathetic, or incapable of fixing in their own children.
The reason that schools are failing is because all of us are failing each other. Our culture, in general, sees teachers as baby-sitters. And teachers are wrapped up in so much red tape with fear of litigation for patting their students on the back or for talking about real life issues.
When control is given back to the teachers and the teachers are given the support they need, maybe the schools will improve. Maybe the kids will begin to perform better. Just maybe.
Mission Possible:How the Secrets of the Success Academies Can Work in Any School (Moskowitz/Lavinia) tells about a charter school in Harlem, NY that, in three years, brought elementary students to the highest level. How did they do it? They focused on the adults.
Principals and teachers in these Success Academies are pushed to their highest levels of greatness which in turn pushes their students to their highest potential. Parents are supportive and give of their time and efforts to help the teachers and students reach their goals.
Want to read about how these schools have become so successful? Use the Rafflecopter below to enter for your chance to win your own copy of Mission Possible. Your copy will include a DVD of real classrooms using the Success Academy process to improve schools and education.
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Disclaimer: I was compensated for this post. All opinions expressed are my own.
(Hallway Image: http://openclipart.org/detail/8937/school-hallway-by-gerald_g-8937)