17 September 2014

Respect- who needs it?

Day 17 - Reflective Teacher Blogging Challenge
What do you think is the most challenging issue in education today?

I have to agree with many of the other teachers out there citing politics, common core and financial reasons. These are really pressing matters that deserve a lot of attention mostly because the one of the main components of education- the teachers- is removed from the decision making in all of the above. So maybe exclusion of teachers is the most challenging issue.  Who knows better that us what our schools and students need?

However, I, like another blogger involved in this challenge, am a bit spoiled by the district where I work.  My superintendent is by far one of the most supportive and forward-thinking individuals you could ask for.  He is the leader of the  Students Not Scores movement.  Over 60% of our students opted out of the Common Core testing and he couldn't have been prouder.  Aside from a very supportive administration, my students live in a somewhat well-off area in comparison to other towns.  This means that we do have many things that a neighboring district may not.  Of course we are not without our problems.  No district is perfect but I am certainly glad that I work where I do.

So, you're probably thinking what is the most challenging issue for you then?  Well, I would say in my case that the overall perception of teachers is not always a good one.  It boils down to one word: RESPECT.  I don't mean to say that all  students are like this.  I do have some very amazing students but I have noticed a sharp decline in the respect accorded the teachers and administrators by both students and parents.   Who do I blame for this? Well, I don't think it can be pinned on just one group in particular.  Everyone has a hand in this.  The media certainly helps to incite taxpayers by contorting the truth and sensationalizing educational issues leaving teachers on the defensive.  How many times can the news report that teachers are paid a full-time salary for part-time work?  Most parents are working hard to pay bills and keep up with the Jones' that they often don't take as much a role in their children's education as they should.  Oftentimes, their children become spoiled at home and expect the same at school.  Parents are quick to believe their children's account of what happened in a classroom and are soon on the phone to berate the teacher.  This behavior reinforces a lack of respect for our profession and is passed on to the students.  Other times, we can be our own worst enemies by allowing our students to cross a line between teacher and student to friend.  I myself have been guilty in the past and have worked hard to become a teacher who is someone they can confide in and feel comfortable with but understand each of our roles in the relationship.  Being too lenient and acting more of a friend can backfire easily. It's similar to the parent-child role. In a nutshell, teachers have gone from being held in high regard by everyone (think back to when we were younger what would have happened if we did something wrong in school--who's side was your parent on?) to being constantly attacked by many.

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