Monday, October 8, 2012

Thanking Teachers

I just finished watching Q and A.

There was education talk.

Education talk usually annoys me. That's probably why I homeschool my child.   I'm on a different wave-length than most people when it comes to the education-issue.

During the show, Kate Ellis was asked a question by someone in the early childhood field.

Kate Ellis made sure to thank the questioner for being a early childhood educator. Ellis made sure to let the woman know she was appreciated. 

Some might have found it to be an act of kindness.

I found it annoying and somewhat condescending.  

Don't get me wrong.  There ARE good teachers out there. There are wonderful human beings, in existence, who love children and are great at inspiring people.   

But not all teachers are good.

I feel as if people say, I'm a teacher; and then suddenly they're seen as angelic and heroic.

They're miracle workers. 

The thing is, not all teachers are Anne Sullivans.  

Some teachers are incredibly boring. They may simply read aloud the textbook in class.

Some teachers are racist and don't do a good job hiding it.

Some teachers despise some of their students and don't do a good job of hiding that.  

Some teachers love their subject matter but don't like children and teenagers.  Some of them are jealous of their students and will say damaging things to bring a kid's self-esteem down a notch.  

Some teachers do the opposite of inspire students.   A child goes in loving a subject and ends the class never wanting to hear about the subject again. 

So let's not pretend all teachers are wonderful.

For those that are wonderful, let's not thank them with condescending platitudes. 

Let's thank them with a salary that makes the teaching field highly competitive. 

The thing with teaching is that it's seen as a sacrifice.  People choose that path even though they could make much more money elsewhere.  Maybe that's why we see them as so wonderful. They're noble.   They're contributing to the community without much monetary return.

But they're NOT all noble.   Or maybe most of them do have noble intentions.   I can give them that.

The problem is noble intentions don't always equal good results.


There's another question.

How do you measure a teacher's worth?

I don't think test scores are the answer.   Or at least they're not the only answer.

But what is?

How do we decide which teachers are fantastic?

I'm actually not sure.   

Maybe they shouldn't even be hired as teachers until it's known they're talented.    Maybe we can look at how they did in university classes and how they did with their student teaching.

We can watch them teach.   Do the kids look interested or bored out of their minds?    Do most kids seem to understand the lesson?   Does the teacher notice the children who aren't understanding the lesson?  How does she treat these left-behind students?   How does she help them? 

These are just some ideas.   Like with any competitive career; there's never going to be 100% consensus on who's the best.   But we can probably obtain some tolerable level of agreement.  


FruitCake said...

He He. Do I remember so many of my teachers and my impressions of them because they were so influential, or just because as my short term memory fades, my long term memory stays intact?

Our state school system - in Vic at least - struggles to get teachers, and then to keep them.

I suspect that beyond delivering the three Rs -[which many aren't] - the best thing a teacher can do is teach their students how to learn.

Not everyone is lucky enough to meet teachers like this. I think Jack is probably on a good wicket at home.

Dina said...


How do you teach someone to learn? That's a mystery to me.

You could probably teach them to read...if they can't figure it out on their own. Then that would be a very valuable learning tool.

Memorization tricks might help too. Although with the internet at our fingertips; memorization is less needed in today's society.

I think we can inspire people to want to learn. That's probably helpful.

Thanks for the positive attitude towards Jack's learning!

HappyOrganist said...

I love memorization tricks ;)

Some teachers ARE boring. And some (like the kind I would be if I were a teacher) don't know how to manage a class.
Well - actually maybe most of them do - but I totally wouldn't be able to. I like the "we should watch the students - see if they're bored out of their minds." You're so funny.

Dina said...


Managing a class is hard. I wasn't good at it.

But yeah. That would be important too. Because if there's a lot of disruptions and most time is spent on discipline, our kids really learning that much?

You make me think though. You can't always give teachers 100% credit or blame for how the students are acting or feeling.

Sometimes a teacher lucks out with very easy going and eager-to-learn students. Another teacher might end up with some disruptive or violent students that make it hard for everyone.

It's like parenting. Parents can't always get 100% blame or credit for their kid's behavior. that's why I think there's no easy way to decide which teachers are great or not.

Maybe one thing is to have the classroom observer spend a day in the class teaching themselves. Be a substitute and see how easy/hard it is to engage that particular group of students.