Dear Policymakers and Administrators:
It’s time we face it, things are changing in the world of education. Whether you are on board or not, there is no denying that the boat has been rocked. Since 2010, teacher turnover has been reported at 20%. Perhaps you think it is a good thing, because you are weeding out all the lazy ineffective teachers. But in my world, I have seen highly effective and well trained educators leave the profession. Teachers that care and still maintain high test scores. Teachers that have mentored me when I was a new teacher, and guided me every step of the way. Teachers that will ROCK your socks off. The teachers that are leaving represent much of the value and experience in education. At some point, you have to realize this affects everybody.
Teachers need to be treated with respect and we have to be trusted in order for things to move forward. We are forced to attend Professional Learning Communities (PLC’S) to talk about things on a set agenda that have little to no impact on kids. Of course we have real things that are pushed to the side so we can talk about whatever is already set on an agenda for us. Although data is an important part of our job, let us meet about other things! We need to talk about the safety of our children, discipline, and other logistical things that help run the school.
And let’s talk about those district quarterly standardized assessments. Not only do we waste taxpayer dollars on them, but we have to take away learning to administer those tests. I bet the taxpayers wouldn’t be so thrilled if they knew that. I know of a district that administered 28 tests throughout the year. That is 28 days of instruction taken away from the 180 day school year. That equates to about 16% of the school year spent taking tests.
I have taught everywhere in the K-2 range. In my experience with administering these types of tests, I would watch the kids as they guessed on the answers. I couldn’t help but notice them “check out” right in front of me. (And I am not the type of teacher that lets kids “check out”) They can only take so much. For something that is already developmentally inappropriate, you can not blame them. So, is the loss of their educational days lost worth it?
Teachers are forced to look at this assessment data in so many different ways. They are forced to read the data until their eyes dry up. Kids are labeled according to their test scores, and their names are put on data wall. Sorry to burst your bubble, but teachers do not need a data wall to tell them which kids are not up to grade level. We know.
Teachers are also expected to post four or more objectives for each subject every day. And their lesson plan requirements? Just see the wall! Everything on the wall is expected to be in the lesson plan. And then some! We don’t look at them. Because they aren’t for us, they are for you. And although you have no idea what it is like to be with your students forty hours a week, and then go home and write these ridiculous things, they will be posted and ready for you whenever you decide to “drop by.” This is not the best use of a teacher’s time. You are taking not only time away from our families during our non-contractual time but you are also taking away from our real lesson planning.
Please give us the respect we deserve, and listen to us when we say, “You are going the wrong way!” We are in the classroom, and you are not. Sure you do your drive by’s, but come into my classroom and teach! And I don’t want you to teach for a week, teach for a DAY! That is all it takes to realize that we are masters of our craft and we desperately need you to trust us as professionals. Please don’t lose your most valuable asset in education: Teachers.
I am not a veteran teacher, but I have been teaching long enough to know the difference between right and wrong. I refuse to be a player in this game. I urge all teachers to think about what is really best for kids. You have a brain, use it! Stick up for yourself when you feel something is not right. Teachers are carefully being silenced, and we must speak up before our voices are no longer heard. Be a leader. Change the game.