Bravo! Encore! In Praise of Teachers

 

by Pattie Sloan and Joan Flora: two teachers challenging the status quo

rocksWe are advocates for teachers and all they do for students and schools.   Because of their sacrifice and service, teachers will often  miss exercise, play, naps, and all of the wonderful elements that make life a little less stressful.  And so it is  with that knowledge that we want to share a chorus from Forever Young and dedicate it to teachers everywhere as they finish out the school year:

To Teachers Everywhere:

May God’s blessing keep you always
May your wishes all come true
May you always do for others
And let others do for you

May you build a ladder to the stars
And climb on every rung
 May you stay forever young.  -Bob Dylan

Dylan’s words encapsulate our desire for every teacher who continues to teach and give 100% in this most complex and oft confusing time in education.  As many of you have extended  a due date for an assignment, we decided to extend practice Teacher Appreciation Week.

We are doing this simply because teachers are singled out this one week every year, and because of  schedules, it is easy to miss the applause and the accolades pouring down around us that we so deserve because we are running to a 504 meeting, a PLC meeting, a parent-conference, an end-of-the-year evaluation meeting, a department meeting/staff meeting, or squirming in line at the one and only staff bathroom in the hall or school.

And so for the teachers everywhere, and you know who you are:

  •  who wore their pants inside out until a student in third period questioned her on it;
  • who wore two different shoes and could not understand why the floor felt uneven;
  •  whose student asked if she got dressed in the dark;
  •  who walked down the hall with her skirt tucked in her panty hose –  We say, “You rock!”           

For the  teacher who:

  • who left a sobbing child at day care and wore a mantle of guilt all day;
  • who taught on an antibiotic haze;
  • who quietly walked to the back of the room to throw up in the waste can;
  • who desperately begged Ibuprophin from students, and then nervously questioned what he ingested“Bravo!”

Teachers do amazing work in surreal contexts, but in an educational  culture of fast-moving change, we see many comrades lose their love for this crazy profession and leave for greener pastures.  Many articles  continue to surface on the exodus from our profession, as this one from The Atlantic, where Liz Riggs writes:

“This overwhelming desire to help students is a common thread among all the teachers I speak with. They all cared for their students deeply, but even this couldn’t keep teachers like Hayley or Emma in the classroom. Simply put: everything else—the workload, the emotional toll, the low pay—was just too much.”

Although the loss of new teachers is disheartening, the fact that the dropout rate increases, as in this report from The Oregonian, is truly sisyphusdistressing.

Oregon’s dropout crisis

Worst graduation rates
Four-year graduation rates for the class of 2011
1. Nevada: 62%
2. New Mexico: 63%
3. Georgia: 67%
4. (tie) Oregon and Alaska: 68%
6. (tie) Florida and Louisiana: 71%
8. Alabama: 72%
9. (tie) Colorado, Michigan
Still, people notice the great work that teachers do, and they continue to believe in us:
kids
Jenn Hatmaker’s amazing blog sincerely reminds us that we are appreciated:
“First of all, I’ve calculated your earnings by adding your classroom hours, pre- and post-school hours, conferences and phone calls, weekend work, after-hours grading, professional development requirements, lesson planning, team meetings, extracurricular clubs and teams, parent correspondence, district level seminars, and material preparation, and I believe you make approximately 19 cents an hour.”
Jen gets it!  But wait, there is more:
“That high standard you set for our kids? We freaking love it. Thank you. Thank you for insisting on kindness and respect, excellence and persistence. Thank you for sometimes saying, “This is junky work and you can do better. See you at recess.” BOOM.  All day long, teachers. We stand behind you. Thanks for requiring their best.”
Need more?
Remember George Lucas’s acceptance speech when he received Irving Thalberg Award at the Oscars?  Lucas said, “All of us who make motion pictures are teachers, teachers with very loud voices. But we will never match the power of the teacher who is able to whisper in a student’s ear.”
 He mentioned his teachers.  He may not know us by name, but he knew to acknowledge those who impact the dreams of young people.
Consider this blog from Mina Malik-Hussein in The Nation:
“Our teachers are the ones who spend their mornings with our children, showing them how to find the power of x, the properties of hydrochloric acid, the correct way to hold a baseball bat. They spend years doing it over and over again with legions of our children, putting up with eye rolling, mean gossip, obtuse questions. Our teachers are the ones who are kind when our kids throw up in their class, when they have a panic attack before going onstage to make a speech, when they cry after losing an election or are jubilant after a football match. We all remember that teacher.”

stages of life

Their words help teachers realize that their work is important and lasting.  Teachers make a difference.  We just need to believe on a daily basis.

So how can we continually change our minds about what we do and accept that we do creates change that will shape this world for years to come?  Try humor!  Check out this amazing poetry slam:

Every teacher makes a positive difference for students.  It can be hard to realize this in May when AP tests are here, graduation is before us, along with the constant and never-ending tasks to still accomplish at the end of the academic year, but we must continue to teach with conviction and passion.   We believe know that we teach with the very best and that our students’ amazing futures begin in our collective classrooms.

Go as far

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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About Teaching it Forward

We are high school language arts teachers in Oregon.
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