Reitz High School

Reitz High School
Evansville, IN

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Response to Teacher Wanting to Give Up Teaching

Recently, several of my teacher friends have posted an article on social media expressing their frustrations with teaching.  Pieces of this article really disturb me.  This article, which has gone viral,  discusses several education reforms such as state standards, standardized testing, the new teacher evaluation program, and of course, using technology in the classroom.

The author of the article I believe is a good teacher.  She has been an English teacher for 15 years.  She indicates that she went into teaching to shape young minds, create good and productive citizens and spend time with young people that lack adult support at home.  This is admirable and the reason that most of us began our teaching careers.  We all want to make a difference.  I want to help produce students that would be good neighbors.  Right?

She describes how the government is attempting to improve education.   In the process they are stripping the joy out of teaching and doing nothing to help children.  As I was reading, I couldn't agree more.  In my 22 years in education, I have seen some of the best teachers that I have ever seen make comments like, "It just isn't fun anymore" and " Remember when we could come to work and just teach?"  She mentions how we are all teaching to the test.  She feels that she is missing out on opportunities to teach real life lessons and morals due to the time spent on teaching the so called essential skills defined by the standards.  At this point, I felt as though she was preaching to the choir.  I once had an administrator that said, "If it isn't on the test, it shouldn't be happening or discussed in your classroom."  Really?

She mentions that teacher evaluations are connected to test scores now.  She explains it great by saying, "My value as a teacher is now reduced to how successful I am in getting a student who has not eaten breakfast, and is a pawn in her parents' divorce, to score well enough to meet teacher evaluation goals."  She says that students are not machines that we can control.  That they are humans where scoring a D on a test doesn't bother them, but they will have a break down when a family pet passes away.  They struggle with writing skills, but are talented artists.  They may have low reading levels, but are courteous and respectful to others.  You cannot measure the immeasurable.  

The article then takes a very disturbing turn.  It seems to me that she associates teaching technology with taking computer multiple choice tests.  Is that the only reason she sees for providing students with technology and teaching tech skills in the classroom?  Did we not give paper and pencil multiple choice tests before they were put online?  I am pretty sure we did.  The computer is just the way the state is delivering it now.  Don't blame technology for that.

She mentions that she is forced to march lockstep in arming students with "21st-century skills."  She sees no value in teaching a student how to create a digital presentation or how to conduct themselves while using social media.  I hate to say this, but we are living in the 21st Century.  I question if she really knows her students and has noticed that they are plugged-in, in many aspects of their lives?  Has she not noticed her students' illuminated faces looking at smart phones, laptops, and tablets outside of school?  Our students today no longer have to wait a week to get prints of their vacation photos.  They can take images anytime, anywhere and send them to 20 friends in a matter of seconds.  What is and isn't appropriate behavior while doing this?  If we do not teach them, then who will?

Our students today no longer have to go to the library and look up information in an encyclopedia and write it down for a research paper or project.  They have all the information they could ever want at their fingertips.  In a matter of a few clicks, they can find out just about anything they want to know.  If we do not teach them how to find credible Internet sources and what is good and poor information, then who will?

The purpose of my article today is not to slam the author.  She has really great intentions and is for the most part, right on!  I do not share her opinion of technology use in the school and just wanted to point out why it is VERY important.  If you have not read the article, I recommend that you do.  Click here to read it.

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