A Must Read for EVERY Teacher and Administrator!
First off. Thanks so much for clicking over to the post! I am sure you are wondering what in the world I have to say that is worth your time to read. I hope this post leaves you two ways: enlightened that you are not the only one and know you are APPRECIATED. Or, this post leaves you with a new understanding for the career of teaching and the passion that goes into it.
What’s the “elephant in the room?”
Well, clearly you clicked over here to see what I had to say about SOMETHING so what is that something? Instead of me simply listing all of the sadness that teachers around the country are currently facing, I would like to take it a different route and share with you a scenario. Instead of sharing about teachers, I will instead share about an imaginary day in the life of a nurse. I feel the nursing field is so close to that of teaching. Nurses have a passion to make a difference and know that every day at work will be completely different from the day before. Now here’s a disclosure. I do not know a ton about the nursing field…but I have full respect for them and I am simply using that profession in my scenario! Now as you read the scenario below you are going to see some flaws…
Okay here we go.
It’s time for your first nursing job. You are excited. You have butterflies, but hey you went to school and got a degree. So, you clearly know everything you will need to know and you’re set. Before your first day of work you meet with your hospital manager. They inform you of a few new details about your job. Well, they actually are going to need you to do “ambulance” duty every morning. They would like you to stand outside the first 20 minutes everyday and wait for any ambulances coming. You know… help them get out and in to the hospital. You smile and nod yes. I mean after all… you’ll just get to work an extra 20 minutes early and prep for your day then.
They then go on to tell you that you will also need to do cafeteria duty during your break time. You smile and nod yes. I mean you can just eat your lunch during that 15 minutes snippet of time and it will be okay! And restroom breaks? Ha. You’ll just hold it until after work.
So, it’s your first day and you get to the hospital. You do your ambulance duty and then scurry back into the hospital to start your rotations. After all, you know all about what you need to do because you spent an hour the night before going over all of your books and learning all the new tricks. You start your first patient and you are rockin’ it. You are happy. They are happy and all is well. Then, your hospital manager pops by to check in on you. Yep all is well. They leave you a little note on the door as they leave. Oh wow! What might they want? Wait, it’s a scale between 1-5 on how I did. Oh so I got a 5 in friendliness, 2 in knowledge, and 4 in promptness. Oh yikes…. I am sure excited about that 5, but I got a 2? That really bums me out for the the rest of the day and I question myself until I am able to meet with my manager. They tell me that I didn’t follow the protocol for this patient. I express my concerns on how this patient’s condition is slightly worse off than a ‘normal’ case so I needed to customize my protocol. They say no and shut me down. I feel discouraged as I really thought I was doing the right thing for this patient. I guess I will go back and treat them like all the other “normal” cases.
You then scurry off to your next patient and well… this patient isn’t so happy about you being there. They throw some tissues at you and say mean words. That saddens you but you do your best to overcome this and know that you have other patients to attend to so you push on. Next, it’s time for your ‘break’ but you and your fellow nurse friends have decided to skip your break and have a meeting to discuss how you will better assist your patients. You get together and instead of getting right down to business you must first discuss each idea you wish to do and align it to your set of nursing standards. Your nurse friend has a really great idea but no one can figure out how to align it to the standards so it’s tabled.
After ‘break’ it’s back to the patients. You love your patients and are excited to get back to it. You make your rounds again and feel confident that you are doing the right thing. You will work hard to bring up those scores, but you are excited about your job and know it’s part of the process.
After your shift you get word that your manager wants to meet after work to have discussion. You drag yourself into the meeting and try your best to stay awake from exhaustion. Your manager informs you and your fellow nurses that they actually decided to go a different way and the plans we made today would need scrapped. Your passion balloon deflates just a little. You can’t believe all of the hard work you planned today would be garbage now. You came into this field to make a difference, but you regretfully didn’t know it would come at a cost to you. However, you smile and nod yes and walk out with your head high and ready to do it all over again.
Well, yes and no. As you clearly picked up on… the story I was telling was fictional in the context of it being a nurse. That of course was not the job overview of a nurse. That was a possible day in the life as a teacher. However, I told the story as she was a nurse because you would have a completely different outlook on it for nurses! We most likely chuckled at the story… that clearly a nurse most likely would not have that kind of job duties. However, we would have not thought one thing about the story if the character was a teacher. Why is that?
Why is it that the teaching profession is so different? I have often times thought about that and the quickly a flood of, “you are doing it for the kids” came into my mind. So, I pushed it aside and went on. It really hasn’t been since I have had the opportunity to look in more closely have I noticed this huge flaw. What is the flaw? That the MOST passionate field is losing ALL of their passion.
I know we are constantly seeing, reading, watching about how teachers have it rough but nothing is done… at least as far as I can see the teaching field is dwindling. “The numbers are grim among some of the nation’s largest producers of new teachers: In California, enrollment is down 53 percent over the past five years. It’s down sharply in New York and Texas as well.” –NPR Ed
What teachers aren’t okay with is the lack of respect for their ability to…. TEACH! I won’t even go into the ways teachers are disrespected because this post is not meant to be a pitty party, yet a difference maker.
Step 1: Trust. Please show your teachers that you trust them. You trust that they have the students’ best interest in heart and you trust that they are capable of teaching. I know that sounds so ‘duh.’ However, believe me… teachers do not always feel that you trust in them or that you even believe in their abilities. Will teachers fail? Yes, as I am sure you do too as do we all. Trust the teachers and their ideas. Trust that they ARE giving it everything they got… as 95% of teachers have chose this field to make a difference and they are there for the right reasons. Trust that the teachers are going well beyond what you ask of them. That’s right even though you don’t see their car in the parking lot at 8 P.M. or on Saturday they are still looking for ideas, planning, and prepping during their ‘off hours.’ Trust that teachers are ALWAYS learning. Trust that we DO want to get quality PD. Overall, trust that we are on your team and we want to win this race alongside you. We want to give it all we got… we might stumble, we might get tired, but if you trust in us and show us respect we will get back up and carry on to the finish line.
Step 2: Listen. Nothing is harder for a teacher then when they feel their ideas, thoughts, and opinions are not considered. You are the administrator so of course we know you have the final say, but before making that final decision please listen to us. Listen when we say we are stressed. Know that teachers do not complain unless it’s really rough… because we didn’t choose this profession because it would be easy. You saw us working in our room day after day this summer so you know we don’t mind putting in some extra work, but there has to be a line drawn. Listen when we say we have the students’ best interest at heart. Yes, we might not be ‘following’ the standard to the ‘T’ for every student, but you see we are with Johnny all day. We are actually with Johnny around 40 hours a week … we know what works for Johnny and what doesn’t. We understand you have the final say on Johnny, but please listen to us. Listen when we say something isn’t working. We are not trying to complain and just get out of the work. We are legitimately concerned and want to know you are listening to what we have to say.
Teachers… I didn’t forget about you! However, your blurb is short, sweet, and to the point!
I appreciate you.
I respect your love and dedication.
I know you will persevere on! You are strong and you DO make a difference! I encourage you to muster up the courage to talk about things that are worrying you with your administrator. It’s possible that they are unaware of the situation and can help to remedy it. We know we can’t ask for the moon and back, but we will settle in the middle for a moon pie cookie any day! 🙂 I wish you the very best this school year! Shine your light bright!
Perfect timing. I've and thinking about this a lot lately.
Thank you for this well thought out post. It makes me feel like what I have been feeling and thinking is validated. Tara, you at least have our backs. Thank you thank you thank you!!! 🙂
You said it all so well. Thank you
Wow!! Thank you!! Five more years to go and I feel like I have no idea how to write lesson plans. We have turned to a new think, at least to admin., Planningbook.com on line. One day is 9 pages!! Anyways, thank you again.
Thank you! In Oklahoma, we have fallen to 50th in the nation in teacher pay. Big buzz in the media is that this is why we have a teacher shortage. That would make sense to non-teachers who've never felt the passion you reference in your post. I'm not saying a reasonable pays scale wouldn't be nice, but money has never been the driving factor in the decision to become or remain a teacher. Teachers – real teachers – are the most creative people on earth. Creative people cannot survive in the current public education environment. It's like putting a fresh-water fish in the ocean. We can't breathe. Please, whoever you are who's making all these crazy decisions, please, please, please – let us teach! Quit drowning us with your need for "data"! Trust us to know our kids and do what we know how to do to help them become happy, successful adults – not just a robot. Let us share with them the joy of learning – not just making a passing score on an "assessment." Quit killing our passion, enthusiasm, and energy! Our kids need us! Our communities need us! You need us! And we need respect – shown in the trust to do our jobs without a "script." Loosen the chains, and you'll be surprised .at the results!
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