Saturday, May 11, 2013

On to Something?

There's something about this time of year.  The end of the year is around the corner, testing is coming to an end, and the long, lazy days of summer are beckoning.... But there's also something about this time of year that makes teachers question their effectiveness.  I (and many of my colleagues) are so hard on ourselves in our struggle to have that one perfect year.  The year when the planets and stars align perfectly for you to not only cover all of your material to the breadth and depth you intend at the onset of the school year but, more importantly, your students will leave your class with the complete grasp of the material you worked so tirelessly to present to them during the 187 days you had them.  (I've always been amused that we have 187 school days.  Isn't 1-8-7 the code police use for a murder?)  Anywho...where was I....ah, yes....the material we worked so tirelessly to present to them during the school year..... A couple things have popped up in my Facebook news feed that have really made me do some serious soul searching.  For your consideration:

Two young men with lots to say about the quality of education that they're getting from their teachers.  I actually saw the video first.  In it, a young man by the name of Jeff Bliss, who is an 18 year old sophomore at Duncanville High School (where I spent the first five years of my career) berates a teacher for what he views as her less than stellar efforts to teach his class.  I don't want to debate the merits of the manner in which this young man chose to address his concerns, I just want to focus on his words.  He's crying out for something better, for a connection with his teacher.  How many times have I sat in the lunchroom at school bitching commiserating with colleagues over the fact that we would kill for some of our students to connect with us.  And this kid is begging for it!  Whoa!  It really made me stop and question those times (and I'm ashamed to admit this has happened, but it has) where I've given up trying to connect with a kid.  Maybe it was teenage bravado that kept them from responding to my efforts.  Maybe deep down they were thinking "Thanks for not giving up.  I'm not brave enough to give in yet, but don't give up.  Please."  Or what about the times that I've let a few bratty uncooperative students in a class keep me from giving the rest of the class the very best I had to give every day?  I know I'm not like the teacher he's ranting against in the video, but his words still hit a note with me.  And about that teacher in the video....has she always been the queen of the packet?  Or did she used to have the fire and passion that this young man now demands she show him and his classmates?  Have years of all take and no give on the part of some, if not all, of her students left her thinking "Why bother?"  If you read the words of the young man who wrote the letter to to the editor, you might wonder...  But here's what I see:  I see two young men who, in all likelihood, represent the opinions of more of their peers than not.  And even if there's some of our students who haven't yet come around on the value of education, and the monumental effort that is required on their part in order to get that education, there are many who have, and they're they're begging for us to show them the way.  As Jeff Bliss said, "You've got take this job serious.  This is the future of this nation."  Challenge accepted.

Update:  Just came across another piece written by a teenage boy in defense of teachers.  Further proof that there are many in this generation who do get it.  I'm actually pretty glad that they're the future of this nation....

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