Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Waiting for Super(hu)man to Change Education

I have to say I was disappointed in Oprah. And I know I'm also opening a can of worms by expressing that. There are definitely teachers who should not be teaching...no profession is exempt from this syndrome. And I must admit, there are many times I was an "inadequate"...and I would even call myself a BAD (embarrassingly bad) teacher at some time during the last 17 years of my career, and am I ever thankful I wasn't fired. Instead, I learned, grew, and worked through my inadequecies because I am in the business of learning. I know there are many, many teachers who are great teachers who have had lessons, units, quarters, semesters, or maybe even years of inadaquacy--but there are so many who change and grow and develop into an effective teacher. I would go has far to propose it's this way in every profession--from "not so good today at my job" to "wow--I rocked it!"

Teaching is hard, hard, hard work. It's a continuous development and when teachers are supported in reflecting on their own practices, learning what strategies are effective (which changes daily in this century and with our kids), and in not being evaluated by test scores, then, quite possilby, we could have an "okay" or "good" teacher turn into a "great" teacher.

I have a big issue with people talking about my profession and trying to "fix" the problem who haven't spent a minute, or wait, make that 282 minutes a day with 130 students for 185 days a year in one single classroom. It gets a little taxing and some days I feel like I'm a great teacher, and some days I wonder what in the world even happened today. I'm not saying I don't think we all can't engage in the conversation, I welcome this discourse--even those who are not teachers, but Oprah single-handedly silenced the voice of all the good and great teachers our country has. There was not one teacher on her "expert panel."

I'm going to see Waiting for Superman so I can join the national conversation regarding its content. But I'm a public school teacher and I serve ALL students. Rich. Poor. Hungry. Snotty-nosed. Whatever. I will see to it that every kid has the right to an education, a good education in my classroom, not just the ones who "qualify" for a privately funded education. I do not believe Charter Schools are the answer.

To my readers: This was an impromptu voice posted on my friend Kim's FB wall after she posted that inadaquate teachers should be fired. I had a lot of other things to write this morning before work--specifically regarding the professor trying to ban books in my school district (which I will write about later)...but her status was the first thing I saw, and I sat down to write. I have more to say on this topic, but thanks to my friend (and great teacher, Kim), for forcing me to start thinking through my own thoughts and beliefs about Oprah and Waiting for Superman.


Anonymous said...

Great post, Casey! I would imagine every exceptional teacher has had occasional days of mediocrity and bouts of self-doubt. I know there are so many things I would do differently if I were still in the classroom, and many times I have wished I could have combined my later knowledge with my earlier energy--maybe I would never have reached "Superman" status (I would have settled for "Wonder Woman"!). I am so proud of the teacher and person you have become.

P.D. Hinson said...

Thanks for summing up what we face in the classroom every day. And keep talking!

Mrs. Troxell said...

Yes, ma'am. It is also irritating that those who taught for a year or two 15 years ago feel that they have all the answers too. This profession changes daily it seems. No one person holds the answers because learning is a collaborative effort,and so is teaching. I will watch the documentary too, but I am not looking forward to it. It seems that we're always looking for answers that can be summed up as slogans. "More testing!" "Charter schools!" What we really need to do is listen, learn, and grow. No one slogan can sum all that up. Thanks, Casey for being a great thinking partner and for this post.