Before I get to far into this post: I am not the best writer and I am not normally one to get really active politically as a teacher. I just don’t have time…I know that I should call/email/fax/smoke signals with my elected leaders but who has time with all of the teaching, then coaching, then going home and being Dad/Husband, then working even more for my students, then finally going to bed just to repeat the process….BUT….
I have become increasingly frustrated with the very toxic relationship that has developed in my state between the Teacher, the Politicians, and our State Superintendent. I surely do not understand all of the different things that go into the entire process. I don’t know how the funding works, except that its based on enrollment and taxes/tax bases. I have no idea what the elementary EOI’s look like or what they test on, I don’t even know what our Math EOI’s look like (the whole no peeking, but make sure they are not randomly clicking thing)…But I do know that in my high school the entire month of April and part of May are dominated by testing (roughly 25 school days). Kids that are taking tests in multiple subjects miss multiple classes over multiple days. It’s frustrating.
I know that education in our state is not perfect, I have tons of room to improve myself! The technology that is constantly available for students to use and teachers to learn is changing all the time. I found a dozen great things this morning that I want to try in my classroom but don’t have time to look too deeply into them. Implementing them will make a difference, can I find time? I want to be evaluated, more often than I am (crazy right) but how will I get better if I get no feedback? I need to hear other ideas, sometimes what sounds great in my head is not very sound in the classroom. I don’t know where our state ranks nationally with education and don’t really care, but I know its not in the top spot. Help me get better as a teacher! Help me get better as a teacher leader! Make it easier for me to find the professional development that I need to improve as a teacher, give me the resources to be amazing, then encourage me when you see things that I need to change. Help me help the students that are going to be our future leaders!
I don’t remember everything from my elementary school years (80’s), but I know I had the opportunity to be creative, to ask questions, to take art, to sing, to participate in PE and to be a kid. I remember taking the IOWA Tests (right…maybe that wasn’t the name) but I have no recollection of not wanting to go to school. Somehow without Common Core, EOI’s, OCCT’s, this new third grade reading test, and countless other standardized assessments, I managed to successfully graduate from high school (took the ACT, PSAT, and SAT), complete an undergraduate degree, then a master’s degree. I have immersed myself into educational technology without needing to take any standardized tests and have learned how to flip my classroom, create screencasts, edit them so that they make sense, use Twitter, created a YouTube Channel, started blogging on WordPress, created lessons on Knowmia, fallen in love with Google Docs, use Evernote, am a TI-84 Jedi, all because I had teachers who cared and inspired me to be one also (Mrs. Ireton and Mrs. Henke), and somewhere along the way I picked up soccer and started coaching (Thanks to Coach Crooks). To be fair there were a couple of tests that I had to pass to be a teacher, but they were not one shot wonders. Now it was my own money, so if I didn’t study and prepare – my fault!
I understand that I live in a state that is very conservative (lower taxes and less government), and for the most part most of those values are my values. I have a lot of respect for the people who are elected to be our political leaders. I don’t think that is something that I could do with very much grace. I am of the opinion that those folks hear quite a bit of what’s wrong and needs to be fixed and what about my special interest. I don’t have any idea how much time our political leaders spend working when they are in session. But I know that if I had a wish it would be this: I would love to see our political leaders join forces with our educational leaders (the ones in the trenches) and create a task force of Positive Change. Something where we could all work hand in hand for the good of the students and the benefit of the teachers. Something where ideas can be shared back and forth over a round table, where we can have great discussion, where each person can feel free to share without worry, where we aren’t adversary’s but colleagues collaborating on what are the best ways to teach our children. Dave Ramsey has said “If you want to be rich, you need to do what rich people do.” He was talking about learning the process, what to do to earn money, how to not lose it, follow the footsteps of other people who had become rich. Keep this thought in mind when figuring out what would be best for our kids – look around, find the places that are known to have great schools and do great things – then do what they do. It may be way different, it may not.
But I am bothered by what some of our political leaders are suggesting about teachers and I just do not think that it’s fair or right. I promise you that the people that I work for love the students. They are AMAZING TEACHERS AND ADMINISTRATORS!! We work so hard for our kids – I can’t tell you how proud I am of my school and district! I know that we will meet any challenge that comes our way and will keep climbing up the mountain (PASS) – even when we have to trudge down the mountain to climb the next one (Common Core) because there is a change in direction. I also know that it would be great if I could get an actual cost of living increase. I know I will never get rich teaching, guess what, not my life goal. But it is nice to feel some love once in a while. And if thousands of my colleagues from around the state want to rally for some love, what’s wrong with that? That is one of the most treasured parts of living in the United States! Being able to have a rally, peacefully, to stand up for what you believe is the right thing. Think of all of the positive things that have come from peaceful rallies in our country, sometimes those are just the things that are needed to start positive change.
I don’t want this post to sound negative, that was not my goal. But I would love it if we could find some common ground out there somewhere. Someplace where we could start building bridges instead of burning them. I am open to change, just not change for change sake. What would YOU DO?