Reitz High School

Reitz High School
Evansville, IN

Thursday, December 5, 2013

What Do Teachers Talk About?

Over the last three years in my position as an eLearning coach I have been to more than 1000 different teacher team meetings.  I have shared with them many tools and great ways to incorporate eLearning into their classrooms.  I absolutely love my job and am passionate about the changes that are taking place and that still need to happen in American Education.  I am dedicated to working with teachers and helping them figure out the best methods to engage their students.  In the process I have also heard thousands of conversations that teachers have every single day.   So what do they talk about?

It may be a big surprise the public, but the teachers I work with are fervent about getting their lessons across to their students and raising test scores.  They aren’t people who just put their time in during working bankers’ hours with their summers off.  Most are at school way before it starts, while others stay long after the school day ends.  Even when they go home, they are still grading papers, answering emails, planning lessons, updating websites, communicating with parents, and some even spend time with groups of students on the weekends.  Professional developments and conferences are usually attended during the summer. 

I was listening to a Talk Radio news update about how America’s top students didn’t even make the top 10 compared to other countries that took a comprehensive set of international exams.  The media rails on American Education constantly.   In fact Huffington Post put out this article and called American Education embarrassing.  I would be interested to know the details about how these tests were administered and evaluated.  Society seems to automatically take the media for their word and thinks, “Well, education in America must just be awful.  It’s them teachers’ fault!”  I will stand behind my district and say, “If it really is failing, it is not the fault of the teachers and administrators that I work with in Evansville, Indiana. “  I cannot think of a more dedicated group that wants to do well and cares about the students.  These principals, coaches, and teachers go above and beyond to create an inviting and safe environment that is conducive to learning.

I believe it is time to let educators do what they know is best and not let education be dictated by politicians with their fixed school grading systems, testing, and standards.  It is ruining education and the creativity of teachers and students.  It is narrowing the subject matter that is being taught to only what is believed to be the essential skills by the standardized test makers.   Who are these test makers?  They are nothing more than textbook companies that are trying to stay afloat because schools aren’t buying textbooks anymore due to the digital shift.

I want to conclude by saying this.  I was flipping through the channels last night and began watching the movie Cold Mountain.  Nicole Kidman’s character made a really good point.  She mentioned how she is good at some things and not others.  Renee Zelleger’s character is a rough and tough, live off the land kind of girl.  She was asking Kidman why she hadn’t fixed the roof and the fence at her place.  She went on to grill her and wanted to know why she hadn’t tended to the garden and the stables.  Kidman’s character finally gets tired of all this and tells her that she is good at playing the piano, but not mending fences.   She can sew garments, but not till the ground for the cotton that used to make them.  She can arrange beautiful bouquets of flowers, but doesn't have the green thumb to grow the flowers.  For the entire rest of the movie I couldn’t stop thinking about these statements.  Humans are not all great at the same things.  We are not all mathematicians.  We are not all brain surgeons.  We are not all car mechanics.  Plain and simple we are not standard.  It takes all kinds of jobs and people to make the world go round.  No list of standards should determine what makes one person a success and another one a failure.  Who is with me?

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