It's a teacher's life for me...

I have been home the last few days fighting off a cold. Yes, this is part of being a teacher. One would think that you would get germ resistant after being around 800 germy middle schoolers year after year and yet, that doesn't seem to happen. These last few years have been particularly bad. My dad seems to think I am one of the sickest people he knows.

Teaching is a career that requires some special skills. Now I realize that some people fall into teaching (and some fall out of it), but if teaching is really your calling, it means you have something special about you. I knew years ago that I wanted to be a teacher. The topic has changed, but the vision stays the same. This is my 21st year of teaching and I think I can confidently say that teaching profession has changed! My vision and goals have not, but the students definitely have.

At this time when the US is clamoring for a "change in education," I believe that we really must look at ourselves and ask, "What do I really hope that education will do for my child?" Sure, we all want our children to excel, but what does that mean. I feel that I have been lucky. Between my 4 children, I have it all. I have the type A super worker, I have the brilliant world saver, I have the relaxed it will happen child, and then I have one with a profound learning disability. All of my children are smart (not to toot my own horn), but what does that mean, excel? It looks different for each and every child.

Children in the US (and possibly some other first world countries as well) are being funneled into a singular path, the college path. Not everyone wants to go to college, in case you are wondering. Not everyone wants to be an engineer, or doctor, or teacher for that matter. I have students who are being shoved into that same hole whether or not they fit. Everyone gets the same math class, the same science class and so on. Everyone is supposed to have at least 3 years of math in high school ending at Advanced Algebra. Even as a math teacher, I wonder why...

I have 8th grade students who cannot read, can't do basic math...why, I ask, are they being forced into classes that they cannot be successful in? I understand that they should have exposure to grade level curriculum, but they also need to know how to read a clock, make change, balance their checkbook, and apply for a job; skills which they will NOT receive because it it no longer considered an "important" part of the curriculum. They need to have to most critical basic skills for success. Instead, I feel like the schools are inadvertently being forced to throw these students away. They will not have the skills to graduate (as it is written), so why bother. They know this and we, as teachers, know this, but are we being asked? No! Those who are in power to make the decisions have no idea what is happening in the classroom. This has always been true.

As a state (and a country) we are so concerned about "catching up" that I feel we are forgetting why we are in this in the first place, the children. Every teacher I know is working hard to make an impact on each student's education and their life, but our power is limited. Until we realize that the more we are implementing standardized tests, taking weeks out of our teaching to give said tests, and shoving all students into the same square hole, we will never catch up, but rather continue to fall farther and farther behind.  We will also have a generation of children that we have alienated due to a lack of success, lack of belief in themselves, and ultimately a lack of skills because we have made it impossible for them to be successful in school.

Teachers are special. They have hearts that are made of silken steel, soft enough to cherish and love someone else's children, tough enough to withstand that harsh words and heartbreak that often comes their way. Teachers are educating the adults of the future and, frankly, I don't need a world where there are a billion doctors and scientists engineers, but rather I want a world where adults can be critical thinkers, can figure out how to solve problems, have a solid work ethic, can work well with others, can formulate a logical thought and speak it aloud, and ultimately be a good citizen and person. These are the things I want to be teaching my students through my content area, math, and frankly, those things can't be measured by any standardized test.


  1. So well said Shannon!! Teaching is such a calling, and you are a beautiful example of that.

  2. Cough, cough, sniffle, sniffle...get well soon. Those kids can NOT survive without you!


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