How much should I, as a teacher, be expected to do between 8:00 a.m and 3:00 p.m.?
And don’t those expectations change depending on what is going on between 3:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m. in a student’s life?
Some kids come into my room ready to learn. With the tools to learn.
And some don’t.
Some need me to be play the role of their parent, their advisor, their taskmaster, their shoulder to cry on, and so on.
Others just need me/want me to be their “English teacher”. (And by that I mean the person who guides them in skills pertaining to advancing their abilities in the realm of Language Arts: reading literature, writing, discussing philosophy, applying 21st century skills, that sort of thing.)
If I only take on the role of being their “English teacher” (as I define it above), am I being derelict in my duties?
If I take on more than the job of being their “English teacher” am I over-stepping my boundaries?
I don’t know. And worse, I am not sure where I can turn for a credible answer.
After all, the state standards, those things I have been hired to teach (and which are supposed to instruct me), speak nothing of showing empathy for a student who, for example, just learned their favorite uncle was sent to prison for a decade. (A recent event in my teaching day.) On the other hand, if I allow this event to be an excuse which exempts the student from working in class, where does that leave me?
This is what is so silly about bubble tests: they do not take into account the ingredients which make up the stew. They just assess the stew… and then the finger gets pointed at teachers as if we are the only chefs contributing.
In fact, I’d say while we can most certainly be one of the most important contributors, we’re not number one. Not by a long shot.
What goes on between 3:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m. in a student’s life greatly dictates what goes on between 8:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. ( I gotta give a shout-out to JoAnne for raising this point in response to a previous blog post of mine!)
And anyone who tries to tell you that it doesn’t is trying to sell you something. And in my opinion, none of this is “excuse making” as some hard-liners would have you believe.
To the hard-liners, I think karma should give them a migraine headache and see if they can perform their job at the same ability as they would without the migraine.
That’ll learn them some compassion for “mitigating factors in performance”.
BTW, Happy Cinco de Mayo! And for those of you who can expect low attendance on either May 5th (getting a jump on the partying!) or on May 6th (too much partying to get to class), remember, the bubble tests don’t care… so STEP UP!