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Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Fear teaching

The superintendent in my home town said he was considering firing half the teachers and the principals at a dozen or so schools if those schools didn’t get their test scores up. I say test scores instead of improve because I know there are amazing things going on at those schools and just because that doesn’t always translate into higher test scores, it doesn’t change that fact.

Some of you might be thinking well if I go to work and don’t produce I can be let go at a moment’s notice and I concede that point but what if your job was building a bike while riding it…. In the rain… while blind folded, or what I like to call teaching, wouldn’t you hope for some leeway?

Teachers often working with limited resources and support aren’t always able to overcome the dehibilitating effects of poverty. They aren’t always able to overcome apathetic or absent parents or grumbling stomachs because kids are hungry or shaking legs because kids are scared. They aren’t always able to overcome a system which sets up so many for failure and sucks the joy of learning out of them with such an emphasis on high stakes testing.

The powers-that-be might chide them for this or call them failures and threaten their jobs but I thank them because I shudder when I think about where these kids, as behind as they are, would be without them.  

Then think about this who in their right mind would want to go to work at a school that had just fired half its staff?  Wouldn’t they constantly be thinking am I next? Who needs that? When the economy turns around nobody will.

Furthermore I always thought the best teachers were the ones that made me want to work harder and to do better, they were rarely the easy teachers too. They challenged me and motivated me and they never tried to scare, intimidate or threaten me.

So go ahead super fire half of the teachers at our schools that don’t do well on standardized tests but good luck getting anybody else to work there or finding anyone better.

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