Appreciation for those who educate our children
Ask any child what she or he would like to be would like to be when they grow up. Most likely you will hear firemen, policeman, cowboy and even President of the United States. As they mature, many will go to college or the trades to be successful and earn a good income. They may look to become an investment banker, lawyer, accountant, doctor, electrician, and the list goes on. Then there are those who in spite of the negative press about teaching are drawn into the profession because of their love for children, the desire to help them succeed, and the chance to make a positive difference in a child’s life in order that they can become educated adults. It’s not the money that draws one to teaching but the love of being a teacher.
Once in the profession a teacher and administrator is faced with political mandates which add more complexity to their teaching day. In the spirit of “Accountability”, mandates, mostly unfunded, such as No Child Left Behind (NCLB) dictates how to fix this profession while taking away funds from those schools that need it the most. It then goes on to label your school as a “Failure” when high stakes test scores are not met and therefore promotes an educationally inappropriate need for “Teaching to the Test”.
Years pass and you struggle with trying to attain the standards of NCLB when a new “Accountability” and improvement to education reform comes to light known as The Common Core Standards. In principal the concept is sound; trying to raise the bar in education and teach critical thinking. This is done by asking more from the student and holding the teacher and administrators to a higher standard. Unlike other changes, this one involves a reengineering of your curriculum and teaching methods. Administrators, teachers and staff must be trained and taught the new teaching concepts; it must be taught to the students; and last but not least it must be taught to the parents. Time and funding for professional development is essential for this to be a success. Time because it will take several years for the alignment of the teaching skills and the testing and technology requirements to come together. Let us not make a mistake and prejudge progress based on the first few years of testing scores. Instead let us be more concerned with the individual growth of the student. We should not make the same error as in the past and think that these reforms are overnight and inexpensive.
The mandated changes are only some of the factors a teacher and administrator have to cope with. Each day they may be faced with the reality of overcrowded classrooms containing 25 or more students, lack of supplies, poor attendance, a high dropout rate, an increase in non English speaking students, students not being tested in their native language and the rise of the poverty level and its effect on student learning.
As a parent when your child, the most precious thing in your life, went to school you had a feeling of comfort and security which afforded you peace of mind that he or she was going into an environment of safety. Horrific events during the past few years have changed that perception. We have seen that these horrific events are not limited to a distant state but have also occurred in our own area. Now both the teacher and administrator have to be trained in high security and safety awareness so they may be equipped to protect your child from harm, or even to put themselves in harm’s way.
All of the above are some of the daily challenges to many a teacher and administrator who do their best with what they are given and often receive little praise for a responsibility so immense.
Teaching is a gift or a talent. A teacher is an artist who has the ability and power to develop one’s mind to think; to succeed socially, emotionally, and academically, to be a productive adult. Let’s not forget that it “takes a village to raise a child” and we all should do our share to support our teachers, administrators and schools.
As a member of the Board of Education in Danbury, I am very proud to be part of the education community. I want to commend and say thank you to all the teachers, administrators and staff for their excellent dedication to the district thus helping to make us one of the best. We have challenges and differences to overcome, and changes to make, but if all in the community join together for the common interest in a quality and equal education for all our children we will succeed. Knowing a little about what is takes to educate a child will help your understanding and involvement.