How Teachers Are Strained
Do we put our teachers in a difficult situation, or what? I had a chance to talk with an elementary school teacher the other day and get a glimpse of the strains they work under.
Relative to the other advanced nations of the world, America’s student performance is near the bottom of the heap. In an effort to deal with the problem, our states and nation are putting enormous pressure on the school administrations, who, in turn, are making enormous demands on teachers.
As this particular teacher explained, the teachers are told that the students have to score at a least a certain level on the state tests or else, but at the same time the administrators don’t support the teachers in order to get those results.
She said, “One of the problems in my classroom has been that too many of the students are not readers, are not reading outside of class. So I told the class that if they would read 20 minutes each evening during the week, and write three sentences on what they read, every other week we would have a party in class. Those who read and turn in their sentences could come (to the party).” She informed the parents of the plan.
She told me after one of the parties, a parent complained to the principal that her son was so upset that he went throughout their house throwing things because he was not allowed to attend the party. The parent blamed the teacher, saying she had “humiliated” her son and caused him to be disruptive.
The principal then told the teacher that she had handled it incorrectly; “A party is O.K., but next time, those not participating must be taken to another room so they don’t feel embarrassed. How would you feel if your child were not allowed to attend the party?”
The teacher posed the question to me, “What is wrong with consequences?”
“After thinking about this, I’ve determined that the principal and I are not always going to agree on how to achieve results, and that is okay. My class’ scores are improving very nicely, and that is the important thing.”
Art Hall, publisher
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