By Teachers, For Teachers
In my ideal world, the red carpet would roll out on the first day of school and we teachers would enter into perfectly designed, organized, and decorated classrooms. We’d be greeted by a standing ovation and the uproar of applause from eager students shouting their praises for our seemingly endless hard work.
After class is over on the first day of school, the pleasant aroma of freshly baked cookies coffee would waft from the teachers’ lounge, where your colleagues would be working harmoniously side-by-side as perfect-pitched, singing butterflies gently hovered over their heads.
Administrators would dance merrily through the halls singing the praises of all staff, while parents applaud each and every homework assignment, long-term project, and report card. Superhero movies would follow suit where every day is saved by the one, the only, Super Educator!
OK, perhaps this is a bit over the top, but a teacher can dream. Imagine what a different educational world this would be if teachers were able to work without any stumbling blocks. I’m fairly certain there wouldn’t be a red carpet or fluttering butterflies, but I would like to believe that children would learn more and teachers would stress less.
Just recently, I read about a teacher who had to make due with outdated textbooks (or no textbooks at all). Sound familiar? Sure we can all teach without textbooks nowadays since most resources are online, but simply put, not everything is available in the digital world—at least not yet.
The harsher, butterfly-less reality continues—as enrollment in classrooms soars, the number of teaching aides, additional resources, and supports plummet. As a result, we’re not able to accommodate every student’s needs—there just isn’t enough time or resources to tackle the emotional, physical, behavioral, or learning needs of every child.
With more rigorous standards come more assessments, which in turn means less instructional time. Less instructional time means less material covered. Less material covered … well, you see where I’m headed. It never ends, in fact the educational onslaught just gets worse when you start to consider parents.
Simply put, some parents cannot or will not get on board with what you are trying to accomplish in the classroom. These are the parents who challenge everything you do, question every assignment, and look over each graded paper with a magnifying glass. Nothing you do is good enough and even though they never took a course in education, they clearly know more than you.
Right now, my greatest stumbling block is the lack of professional development. I consider myself to be technically savvy, however; I am proficient using a PC, not so much with an iPad. While there are iPads available to my school, they’re rare commodities—scheduling time to use them is definitely a challenge. Our goal is to have an iPad for every student by next year. Great! But how do I use them effectively?
Unfortunately for me, the cost to attend a professional development/technology workshop is insurmountable for me and my district. I am constantly informed there just isn't a budget for professional development, technology or otherwise. What’s worse, searching for or writing grant proposals just isn't conducive to my busy schedule. Without this support, I am left to detour any professional training and attempt to complete my own independent study, that is in between lesson plans, assessments, grading, and so much more.
OK, so I think I’ve painted quite a grim picture here—certainly one that doesn’t involve dancing administrators or freshly baked cookies. Nevertheless, the point of this article isn’t to just be a Debbie Downer. Instead, it’s a plea for all teachers to unify—to encourage each other to keep moving through the trenches despite the daily conflicts we face year after year.
There’s likely a light at the end of this tunnel, but at this point in time, it’s a world we can simply dream about until we can finally reach the ears of the decision-makers that want to make the same difference as we do.
Fellow teachers, we will stumble and fall with the hurdles we have to jump every day. But know that we are all in this together and we’re fighting the good fight. The moment you feel discouraged, take a look at yourself in the mirror and realize how much good you’re actually doing for your students—even if they aren’t giving you that standing ovation you’re long after—though a batch of freshly baked cookies for your colleagues probably wouldn’t hurt either.