Let’s Hear it for the Teachers. . .Well, Some of Them

I just helped for 2 1/2 hours at my daughter’s school this afternoon for “Fun and Fitness” day. My job was to supervise a sack race and a beach ball game where pairs of students needed to get a beach ball from one end of the pitch to the other and back without using their arms or hands.

I’m exhausted.

As for teachers, those people who do this all day every day for 2/3 of the year and then go home to take care of their own children: We don’t pay these people enough.

But. . .

Some of these classes come up and the teacher says “get in your teams” and the children line up and await further instruction.

Some of the classes arrive and mill around in confusion and take all of the beach balls and throw them at each other and don’t listen to the instructions while the teacher stands in the shade chatting with parents.

Is there a way that the first teachers in the first group could get paid more than the teachers in the 2nd one?

My oldest son (20 now, and a physics major at a prestigious midwestern college) demonstrated a lot of intelligence at a very young age. He had taught himself to read before starting kindergarten, and used to become confused when playing preschool games because he was trying to turn simple counting problems into computational ones. He loved homework so much that he would beg me to buy those little workbooks at the drugstore and he would do them at night (this is during his preschool and kindergarten years) for “fun.”

Then he went to first grade. Mrs. W. was a prim, pinched, unhappy woman who wanted students to sit in their chairs with their hands folded and to get their work done as efficiently as possible. If they were given a picture of a butterfly to color, Son #1 would decide to make a mosaic pattern out of all 48 crayons in his crayon box. If they were learning about bugs, Son #1 would spend the entire evening catching every bug he could find and collecting them in little plastic bowls to bring in to show the class the next day. If he didn’t just want to know what something was, but why, he would ask.

Mrs. W. was not happy.  Son #1 was perfectly willing to bring the picture home to complete; this was not acceptable. Son #1 asked too many questions; it disrupted her “teaching.” By the end of the year his handwriting had deteriorated to unreadable (and stays there still), and his primary concern was to get the work done as quickly as possible. “Good enough” was good enough.

I’m not sure he’s recovered from this mistreatment yet, and I deeply regret that I was too young and unsure of myself to do something about it.

Beyond the literal teaching that these people do, they have immense power to motivate, to inspire; or to deflate, to deter. These are the kinds of things that need to be recognized when evaluating teacher’s success; and probably more so than looking at the latest standardized test scores.

Now I’m going to go lie down and put a cool cloth on my forehead.

1 Response to “Let’s Hear it for the Teachers. . .Well, Some of Them”

  1. November 12, 2010 at 10:08 pm

    My son is two weeks old and already I worry about teachers of this nature. It saddens me greatly that people can take the responsibility for the education of a child in an area that a parent may not be as learned and not be engaged in the education enough to do his or her best to keep children motivated or inspired.

    I plan on supplementing my son’s education in the best ways that I can, but even for me to do that, we still can’t avoid bad, careless teachers from pre-k through college.

    Good teachers should be paid more and bad teachers shouldn’t be protected and allowed to be detrimental to education.

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