5 World-Changing Truths: Celebrate Our Teachers

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This week, Dr. Wayne Baker welcomes world-traveler, communicator and educator Gayle Campbell to share five world-changing truths. That’s Gayle with students gathered around her in the photo, above. And, here is Gayle’s third column …

Many headlines in the U.S. recently have been about political schemes to break teachers’ unions and, in general, “get tough” about reducing teachers’ resources. In fact, Tuesday night at the Republican National Convention (RNC), New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie crowed about his confrontational efforts against teacher unions. People warned him not to tackle teachers, Christie told the RNC, “They were just too powerful.” He did it anyway and wound up beating the teachers’ unions, he boasted.

Teachers are an easy target when times are tough and people are out of work. But should we really be de-funding and devaluing those on the front lines of engaging and listening to young people? After a year in the classroom, I’ll tell you why I think we should be investing in teachers just as much as our kids.

Growing up, I thought of teaching as an easy profession—they have the best hours, get the best vacations, and all they have to do is hang out with kids every day! All the lesson planning, grading, test making, disciplining, and administering seemed like a snap to me, if I thought of those challenges at all. When I accepted a position teaching 5th grade in Honduras, I was excited to try a job where my hours were 7:20am-2:40pm, and I couldn’t believe the number of vacations I got.

Was I was in for a rude surprise!

Being a good teacher is one of the most difficult jobs out there. You’re not merely picking up a standard curriculum and skating through the hours. A good teacher invests time and resources to reach the level and learning style of each student. You’re taking time before and after school to offer extra help for those who need it. You’re assigning meaningful homework, paper and project assignments, and taking the time to offer helpful feedback on each. You understand where the main curriculum is lacking, and you plan supplemental creative lessons to make up for it. Every day you are working on forming the most effective behavioral and discipline plan in the classroom. And each day, you come in with a plan, an abundance of energy, and a smile.

Still sound easy? It’s not.

We all want this kind of teacher and we all know there aren’t enough of them to go around. There are simply not enough incentives for the brightest and the best, those willing to go the extra miles, to pursue teaching as a career. And we need to find and encourage those teachers. We need to start recognizing teachers for the heroes they are, and need to start rewarding them for their work in equipping future generations with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed.

Now, solutions aren’t simple. And we’ll hear more about this tomorrow. But recognizing those who are part of the solution is a start.

What do you think of the current get-tough-with-teachers campaigns?

Is there a great teacher who shaped your life?

How would you find and encourage great teachers?

Add your Comment below.

Originally published at www.OurValues.org, an experiment in civil dialogue about American values.

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