Join me in welcoming guest blogger, Molly Doss to Things I Teach My Children! As a public school teacher and mother of two kiddos, Molly offers her perspective on the debate surrounding public education in the United States.
As a mother and a teacher I am scared of where our country’s education system is heading.
In truth, I’m terrified.
I went to public schools, teach at public schools, and have all intentions, should things not go to hell in a DeVos handbasket, on sending my two children to public schools as well. However, with President Trump’s new policy being discussed, the changes to our system would mean public funding will be pulled from our public schools and given as a sort of “scholarship” for families to send their children to charter, magnet, and private schools, depleting our already neglected public schools further.
Regardless of your stance, you must realize that our public schools, whether you plan on backing the national school choice policy or not, are in danger. And let’s be brutally honest—in the wake of standardized tests and curriculum that does not take into account shifts in our society or the evolving job market that will be available to our children after they graduate, the last thing our educational system needs is another detrimental hit.
So, having insight on both sides—as a mother and a teacher—here is what I suggest we do to help our public school teachers.
Everything Starts at Home
First- everything starts at home. Parents need to be involved. Not only with academics, but also in communicating with the teachers and having a firm handle on discipline and behavior of their children at home. I believe some parents see teachers as miracle workers or babysitters, and often a teacher is left to correct and redirect behavioral issues that not only interfere with the specific student’s education but that of the class as well. Before a child begins school, he or she should already have a foundation for behavior expectations that has been set by parents. This foundation should then be built on as the child ages, with the help of parents and teachers alike. There also needs to be a steady stream of communication between a parent and the teacher, especially when that student is struggling academically, emotionally, behaviorally, or otherwise.
The Blood, Sweat and Tears of Teaching
Second- teach your children how much energy and emotion their teachers put into their jobs. I have had my son come home from preschool and complain about how mean his teacher is. As a momma bear, I immediately go to blame her. As a teacher, though, I think about how much time this teacher has put into lesson planning; assessing my child’s and twenty other children’s work; cleaning up after crafts, activities, or worse, accidents; juggling twenty wildly different personalities while differentiating her methods to ensure she reaches each child; struggling to find three minutes to use the bathroom for herself; contacting the director and parents for any number of reasons; writing incident reports; observing and making notations of each child’s growth and progress in hitting milestones while planning parent meetings to discuss progress; preparing special gifts for the parents on the children’s behalf; sticking to a structured schedule despite any and every wrench thrown into her plans; and, most importantly, I think about how at the end of her day, she goes home and worries about her students.
She thinks about things she could have done better, things she can’t fix and with a broken heart accepts that, she stays up figuring out how she can make her day better, her students happier, herself more efficient, while also trying to maintain a healthy family dynamic of her own.
Students and children should be made aware of how much blood, sweat, and tears truly goes into teaching. I have felt, on numerous occasions that teaching is a thankless job. Teachers do not teach simply because it is a means of income. We do it because it is in our hearts. Everything we have goes into this profession because we are highly aware that we are responsible for helping shape the children who are our future. That is not a job that is taken lightly, nor is it a job that is checked at the door when the teacher leaves the school building. We carry that with us, everywhere we go, at all hours of the day.
Teachers Are Human Too
Third- everyone must remember that teachers are human, too. We have bad days. We have cracks that show like everybody else. There is a lot of pressure for a teacher to be continuously and enthusiastically happy, bubbly, punctual, understanding, tolerant, structured, and accommodating. Do not get me wrong—teachers should be these things, and then some. But it’s also important to realize that your History teacher may have just stopped crying on his lunch break because his father is in the hospital or that by 8th period your English teacher might be snappy because she has been battling migraines or didn’t sleep because her baby was sick all night. Sometimes I feel there is no exceptions for teachers to be less than perfect. But we are not, try as we might to appear so.
And lastly – support our public schools. Get involved. Volunteer at your local high school, buy goodies from the neighborhood kid who is doing a fundraiser, save your box tops and give them to a friend who has a child in public schools to bring in. Do you have any spare school supplies, clothing, canned foods, or even extra money? Public schools need these things. We need support from our communities. We need eager students to fill our chairs—students that yearn to learn so they can change our future. I have taught students in the public school system that I know will change this world. Help them. Help the teachers. Help our schools.
The last thing our educational system needs is for money to be taken away to support
political agendas. Regardless of where things are headed, though, we will still have public schools, teachers who put their all into them, and students who are excited to be there. Our educational system is an integral part of our society and we need, for the good of our country and our future, to help support that and the teachers that help make it what it is.