It’s Christmas Eve and Santa (if you subscribe to this system) will shortly be invading your homes with his sack full of toys, to deliver to the good girls and boys. They wrote out their lists so carefully, being sure to include all of the things that they wanted.
Well, I have a Christmas list of my own. I’m hoping it’s not too late to get to Santa (or whoever can take care of these things for me):
1.World Peace: Yup, I’m starting out big. There is seriously nothing else on this list that I want more than this. World peace means: no more mass shootings, no more hate filled words and actions, no more little children running for their lives from whatever horrible thing (or person) is chasing them. World peace means more time for love, kindness, learning, and play. Let’s be honest: we could all use a little more love in our lives.
2.Endless Classroom Supplies: Pencils for DAYS, y’all! If I could have a never empty box that included pencils, erasers, markers, crayons, permanent markers, whiteboard markers, whiteboard erasers, chalk, chalkboard erasers, fancy bulletin board accessories, sticky notes, and all of the art supplies ever made, I would be one happy teacher!
I would also accept appropriate funding for education, including supplies, books, and technology. Please include in this area also teaching support positions like paraprofessionals and teaching aides.
3.To be Taken Seriously: Yes, my students (mostly) think I’m in charge and know what I’m doing. They show me respect in so many ways. But I’m talking about administrators and politicians.
It seems that in this country, everyone who is NOT a teacher thinks that they understand how to BE a teacher. False. I went to school for this, I study this in my spare time, this is my career. I don’t walk into my doctor’s office and tell him the best course of treatment BECAUSE I’m not a doctor.
For many superintendents and principals, they require their teachers to construct elaborate lesson plans using a multi-page format. Ain’t nobody got time for that. What these kind folks are saying is: “Your time is not valuable to me, and I find it more important that you spend hours filling out this pointless lesson plan form than actually teaching your students or assessing their learning.” Again, professional teacher with multiple degrees in this field and several years of experience. This system breeds discontent. It forces teachers to be uninventive and repetitive, since this method allows for faster completion of said lesson plan forms. Can we agree to ditch this in 2016?
4. Parents Who Support Me: Not just lip service support, but actual real support. I want teachers who take my suggestions for continuing learning at home seriously. I want parents who don’t expect me to teach all the core subject AND manners AND common sense. I want parents who don’t try to make their poor parenting an educational problem that I am expected to fix. Sorry, was that last one harsh?
5. For Common Sense to Prevail: Returning to the whole politicians playing teachers idea, I would like someone, somewhere, to just go right ahead and explain how teaching actually works.
Alright, I’ll do it.
See, it’s like this: I get 20-30 kids at the beginning of the school year. Some have special education needs, some are average, some are advanced. I have no control over this. If I did, I would ask for a class of average to above average children. I put the material I am required to teach out there in the most engaging and authentic way possible. Then I assess to determine if the kids understood this material. Then I move on because I have more things to cover. I cannot make a child who enters fourth grade working at a second grade level magically be at fourth grade level. I cannot make a child understand everything I teach. I can help; I can facilitate; I can reteach; I can coach, prod, nudge, assist, and anything else that might move him toward understanding. But I am not that child; I am not in his brain telling him how to answer on his assessments. Therefore, it is illogical to tie my performance to the students’ academic achievement. This is not a factory, churning out parts or cars. It’s a school, dealing with unique humans and their many different lives, experiences, abilities, aptitudes, and learning styles.
So, that’s what I want for Christmas this year.
What’s on your wish list?