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Teachers have to be smart and assert their smart

Conversation with a teacher on FB

She

Good lord! This is so tragic. Teachers are beat up ALL the time while being expected to do more and more every single year, with less and less. Horrible nasty vile comments on various FB news posts blaming teachers for our state standing in education. What the hell do people expect teachers to do? Do they not realize that we are fighting desperately for funding? Why should we have to do that? Most if not ALL of the “FB experts” out there have never even been in our classrooms! It’s really hard to discuss this with community members who THINK they know what’s best for our district, our kids and teachers.

Anyone outside of education who says education is a priority in our state is wrong. Kids are simply NOT a priority at all. 

Does that make you angry? Then show up and help us fight for education.🍎 We are in huge trouble and if you have a child in public education, this SHOULD wake you up! 

See the flyer for our Red4Ed rally in Carson City in the comments. Also please write to our legislators and senators! Tell them that education should be our #1 priority!!! 🍎🍎🍎🍎

Stephen Lafer

Once and for all, teachers need to react en mass and in the name of good education for all students, the kind of education that would take place if they had what they needed to teach well and were given latitude to do what they, as professionals, know to be best for students as they grow into full citizenship. Teachers have to show that expertise in public and to the public. They need to explain why being tied to dictated curricula and forced to used commercial textbooks and accompanying programs harms students. They need to do something about colleagues who are habituated to a programed curriculum and teach without consideration for the real needs of individual students. They must demand reasonable pay and it is not unreasonable that a good teacher make $85,000 to $100,000 starting pay. Good teachers spend considerable time planning and they should not have to spend that time figuring out how to get around the edicts that come from those put in charge of controlling them. They need to demand planning time in amounts reflective of the work they do to adjust teaching regularly to meet the needs of students and society. They need to do what they can to push those who do not engage in such work to do it and to push out those who will not. Public schools could be great schools. They are not and not necessarily because of the quality of the people who teach in them but because of the current goals of schooling that are more about regimentation and obedience than about individual human being growing up to be powerful and competent individual thinkers who are able to make well reasoned decisions based upon sound information, the ability to reason well and the ability to distinguish between sound, irrelevant, fallacious information and to use it in the decision making process central to the goals of good education. Adopting such goals and fighting to insure that teachers have what they need to teach to such

 goals should be a part of any meaningful campaign to get good teachers what they need and deserve.

She

ALL of this! That’s is also why I am so pissed that they want to also cut our GT program. THAT is exactly how we teach. I don’t always reach everyone, but I certainly try. I am lucky because our GATE department treats us like the professionals that we are, so I have flexibility to put my talents to work. Many of our teachers don’t get to the way they’d like to.

Stephen Lafer

Okay, I would say the beginning of the beginning of the push to right wrongs is to get at what is wrong that causes some to believe that how you teach is not how all should b encouraged and allowed to teach. Begging to be treated as professionals seems unprofessional. Demanding, as professionals, that you will be treated as professionals or there will be repercussions, is the professional way to go about it. Help your colleagues to adopt the attitude of the professional, that being that “we are the experts” and you will have to listen to our expertise if you want us to serve your school system. Yes, risk here, but the way to fight against it is to put that expertise on constant display, putting before the public the expert reasoning that guides good practice. So, for instance, if, as teachers should, they reject standardized testing and the memorization curriculum that serves it, explain what it means TO KNOW THINGS WELL ENOUGH AS TO BE ABLE TO APPLY THEM IN THE DECISION MAKING PROCESS. Then explain what it takes, the kind of teaching necessary to teach for that kind of thinking. This is a starting point that should become a way of life for dedicated teachers, always teaching as they, as experts see fit and always able to provide a sound rationale for what they are doing referencing always powerful goals for education in a democratic society.

She

That sounds like what we are working on with Empower Nevada Teachers. The only problem is there are frightened teachers. And THAT’S a huge issue.  😉 It also sounds like that’s what happened in Arizona. 

I will say that most of the social studies teachers who I work with do not teach in a way for kids to memorize and regurgitate. I am unsure if you have seen our curriculum, but it’s the best I have seen. Maybe not the scope and sequence part (I am on the fence about that), but the activities we have pulled together and still pull together constantly. It’s ALL about teaching them to analyze, think critically, engage in civil discourse, recognize and practice tolerance, individual thinking, etc. ALL of that ALL the time. 

I do know that there are teachers who do not teach that way though. And to be honest with you I never ever learned that way when I was in public school as a kid. It wasn’t until I started college that I really started to learn in such a different way. We actually had discussions that held me accountable. I know that is why I am the way I am today. And that is the way I teach. 

And when I get to see real life proof that I, along with my other team mates, have been effective, that makes it even more powerful. We had many of our students write letters, email, show up and speak at the Board meeting on Tuesday night. It was so powerful to witness. I was very excited to tell them that that was civic duty in action and they made a difference. 

Anyway yes, I know that something drastic needs to happen.

Stephen Lafer

I agree with all you say here. That YOU were not taught the way you learned you should have been taught should be taken as a warning and the fact that some teachers do not teach for thoughtfulness is another. Only thoughtful teachers should be teaching and that is why the textbook packages, no matter how good the material might be, are dangerous. They allow teachers who are not thoughtful to teach to the prescribed curriculum “effectively” while they may not be truly effective teachers, teachers who are models of thoughtfulness able to respond to the thinking of individual students and adjust curriculum and methods as need arises, for instance when a student asks a question not answered by the text or when something occurs in the world that the text cannot have covered. In addition, importantly, those content with the textbook oriented curriculum too often, even when the curriculum is a good one, do not understand the theoretical bases for such curriculum and are unable to explain to those to whom things need to be explained why they are teaching what they are teaching as they are teaching it. This is a far too prevalent phenomenon, teachers teaching what they are told and doing it well without knowing WHY they are teaching what they teach as they teach it. That makes the best curricula vulnerable to challenge, challenge that too often wins even though what comes of such wins is not good for schools or society. So teachers need to fight to have in their job descriptions the role of CURRICULUM MAKERS, and in that role they need to be able to build curriculum that is theoretically defensible. This makes it so that the only people who teach are people capable of understanding what constitutes good curricular goals and able to explain to all who need it explained why the curriculum is good for achieving goals that can be justified through reference to what people need from education in order to live decent lives as citizens of a sane and humane democracy.

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