Thursday, March 8, 2018

Eyes of the Student

I loved teaching, still love teaching.  When my health said it was time to stop, I turned away from the classroom.  I now have two granddaughters whom I love without end.  Still, I miss the classroom, the eyes of the students as they learn.  

The eyes never change.   

In the twenty years since my first group of students, I may not recognize them, but they recognize me.  

 When I see the eyes, I can call up the child-face these adults once had.  Suddenly we are talking about their lives and what they are doing as adults.  Some have children holding their hand, some are going on to school.  I don’t tell them about me, my life goals, because I am not and never was the important one:  the students were all that mattered to me.

Almost every night I have a dream about teaching.  Some are great, where we are on the playground or we are reading a grand book.  Others are not. 

In those dreams, the teaching situation is desperate, the classroom is an abandoned rotting shell of a building, and the students are scared.  So am I.  There are so many students with all sorts of needs and we don’t have enough books to go around.  Whatever learning happens is up to the teacher, because there is no other source.  I see their eyes looking at me, waiting, and that is when I do something.

Bolivia Road of Death
I never get to find out what I do, for the dream morphs onto something like driving a school bus along that most dangerous road in Bolivia.  Then I wake up.


It all comes down to the teacher and the quality he/she brings to the classroom.  Money can be thrown at the needs of the schools, but if the teacher does not have the freedom to teach, nothing will happen.
  

Newly updated, politically correct textbooks can be stacked along a wall, reams of lined paper can line the perimeter, and sharpened pencils can fill clear storage bins.  All are meant to improve learning.

But, if the teacher does not have the freedom to explore and fulfill the needs of each student, learning will dwindle to the bubbles on Scantron™ test papers. 

***This is a re-post of one I wrote back in 2011.  I loved it then, I love it now.  I miss the classroom to this very day.


22 comments:

  1. The teacher must have the freedom and the passion.
    That comic above would be funny if it weren't so scary true.

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  2. Replies
    1. Many teachers I knew were frustrated with the lockstep approach forced on them. they were experienced teachers who left teaching.

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  3. Although now the Scantrons have been replaced by Chromebooks...

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    1. I know. Chromebooks are better in that results are readily available. Scantrons were a nightmare. Students who struggled developmentally would get confused and lost.

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  4. You are so very, very right, Susan. i hope that some day that you go back to teaching in some way. I know that you were one of the best

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    1. Thanks, Arlene. Teaching as I did is not in my future. Working with my gr-kids is my teaching now.

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  5. Once upon a time teaching was a honoured profession, and teachers respected.
    A time I would happily return to.
    And I, like lots of other people, have a teacher or two held firmly in my heart in gratitude and appreciation for what they gave to me.

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    1. Those teachers were gifts to you. Any teacher who stands in your memory strongly was a good teacher. Mine were Mrs. Eva B. Norton, Mrs. Mary Ellen Willard and Miss Harmon.

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  6. Learning is already dwindling, with teachers having to accommodate the slowest students at the cost of those who learn at normal or faster speeds. Can't be upsetting the children or parents by putting those children in remedial classes, they must be made to feel as normal as anyone else. So the curriculums are being dumbed down, every one gets a passing grade and children leave school unable to read or spell correctly. And you're right about the money angle, more money doesn't equal better teaching.

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    1. So so true. It was an order tossed at us. I geared teaching to different levels. Had gifted students as well who needed, absolutely needed to have challenging curriculum, which I was honored to provide.

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  7. And the post is as fresh and as good as when it was originally written.

    Your teaching days are not at an end...your grandchildren will benefit greatly from having you as their grandmother, Susan. :)

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    1. Thank you! Having them has kept me fresh and excited about teaching.

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  8. Teachers sure need that freedom indeed. Sad how true that comic is.

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    1. California was once the model of progressive teaching. Now it is at nearly the bottom of the nation.

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  9. i taught 2nd grade for 3 years. i still have strange dreams about it. in all of them, it's the first day and i'm trying to get organized. and in the dreams i have about me going to school, it's always the first day, and i can't find my locker or my classrooms.

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  10. I'm pleased you re-posted this, I enjoyed reading it.

    Teaching is never at an end especially if you have grandchildren. I am so fortunate to be able to spend time with mine and it is magical as well at times educational!

    All the best Jan

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    1. I have been blessed to be with my girls and teach them art and sewing. Thrilled that you have had the same experiences.

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  11. There are moments I love teaching. We don't really get to teach though. They give us our curriculum and we 'write the lesson plans,' but they have to match the standard and every other teacher teaching the same subject has to do the same 'lesson' at the same time. People walk through randomly several times a week with their clipboard, to ensure we're teaching to the standards, and nothing else. All aligned to get the most out of the unit exams (for which we have big data chats on our walls) and ultimately the FSA. Interestingly enough, my son's school, in another district, and a very different grade is doing the same things we are, just on his grade level. Exactly the same things we are... it's a little more robotic than I would like, that's for sure.

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    1. A teacher friend once spoke of the "if this is Tuesday, you should be teaching page#____". That is also now. While I understand the continuity from school to school within the district, it really slaps the teachers' hands.

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Go ahead...it won' t hurt...I'd love to hear what you think!