Yes, I will admit that compared to other jobs, the teaching schedule is idyllic. But so many are disillusioned about what being a teacher really is. It is one of the greatest responsibilities on earth! I believe, if society would spend a few days watching and learning about what teachers are ultimately responsible for doing, there would be an increase in respect and support for teachers.
Ultimately, we don't simply teach "reading, writing, and arithmetic." We are becoming more and more the ones expected to teach morals, values, and character. We are faced daily with the need to be crisis counselor, food and necessity provider, de-escalator in peer and family arguments, physical violence interventionist, and nurse. And we have to do it all without touching children and without saying anything to the child or the parent that may be construed as negative, and are not to conduct ourselves any differently around a child who is prone to make threats and use physical violence toward us or the other children. Pretty much, we are expected to do those things with our hands tied, our mouths duct taped, and our eyes closed. Oh...and we also have to do all of these things in at least 3 different langauges.
Another thing that gets under my skin is the insistance that all children - no matter their need - be mainstreamed into the regular classroom setting. Don't get me wrong...there are MANY children who recieve special education services who are perfectly fine in the classroom setting, who add to the beauty of learning, but what seems to be happening more frequently is that parents insist that their child be in a regular classroom setting no matter the extent of their needs - either emotional, physical, or mental.
...Like the child with a syndrome that made her so frail that a simple touch from another child could break her bones
...like the the child whose emotional state caused him to become violent- verbally and physically- at the drop of the hat causing his teacher to have to remove the rest of the class from the classroom MULTIPLE times a day to keep them safe
... like the child without bladder control that required the school to purchase a special changing table with a lift and who had to be changed multiple times daily (of course) by the teacher
... like the child whose learning ability was multiple grades below his classmates causing him and his classmates great frustration and the teacher countless extra hours of planning
...like the child who would run from the teacher... in the hall, on the playground, on field trips, waiting for the bus...causing the teacher to have to leave the rest of the class to find and rescue him multiple times a day.
When do the parents of the rest of the children get to stand up for the right of their child to a safe and appropriate learning environment??
People complain that kids aren't learning enough...that they aren't prepared for the next grade, college, or the workforce, but with teachers expected to be and teach all these other things (many of which were once taught in the home) how are we supposed to successfully add a years worth of growth and knowledge to every child every year???
At the beginning of this year, about 21 students will walk through my door joining our second grade class. Some will be on a kindergarten level (or below) and some will be able to easily complete the same work a 5th grader would be assigned. (and I have to plan for and teach in a way that ALL levels can learn) It is my job to bring everyone AT LEAST to the level of a pre-third grader by May. My test scores will show if I succed. Yes, the test that they take during April that covers the ENTIRE year...even stuff we may not have had time to cover since there is still a month left in school. not to mention the fact that it's just a snippet - what if the child is sick that week? what if they just lost their home to fire? What if someone they love just left or died? What if...
YES! Teachers should be held responsible for covering the curriculum...for maintaining a healthy learning environment, for helping the children internalize all these new skills, but is a test given once a year the best way to gauge the ability of a teacher? Should we, as teachers, be in fear of losing our jobs because of the way students perform? In effect, we are creating a world of GREAT test takers (when given one right answer)...but we are failing to raise up great thinkers and problem solvers. There just isn't time in the day with all the added responsibilites we are given.
This is not at all what I intended this post to be about...I was going to write about the joys of having to pack everything up in my classroom every year to prepare for cleaning and then, during my summer off, how I spend weeks unpacking and getting the room put back together and planning for the new year, and attending at least 18 hours of inservice (although, they like it if you attend more)...all this during my whole summer off...But I will leave that for a future post...complete with pictures of the transformation my room is undergoing...
Sorry for the soap box, but if you're still here...thanks for listening!