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Here's What Teachers Need

Publication Date: 2008-09-12

This is from the Education Week blog, Aug. 26,
2008.

These are the things teachers need:

1. Start with repealing the NCLB Act, high stakes
testing, and programs like Bush's Reading First
Initiative.
2. Have administrators who ask, "What do you need
to do your job better and how can I help you do
that?
3. Get rid of the factory mentality currently
applied to schools. Schools are not factories and
the factory model is inappropriate for education.
4. Fund smaller class sizes so that we can
address students̢۪ needs more effectively and help
students learn.
5. Support from the public. We do not need more
teacher bashing. If you can read this, thank a
teacher.
6. Have far less interference from politicians,
business folks, and standardistos telling us what
to do. We know what we need to do. We live and
breathe teaching.
7. Fund schools in needy communities so that they
are on a par with schools from upper income
neighborhoods.
8. Have more opportunities for students to take
courses in the arts.
9. Do not engage in behind the scenes
manipulations among business, politicians, and
special interests groups who think they have the
answers and only want to line their pockets.
10. Provide a salary we can actually live on. Do
you know that those in the home building industry
make more money than teachers?
11. Give teachers the opportunity to shape our
own in-service education programs.
12. Stop interfering with the "quick" fix.
Schools should not be run by the quarterly report
ala high stakes tests.
13. Free us from "bureaucratic" harassment. Just
let us do our jobs.
14. Focus on what we do for humanity and
understand that our students come from different
homes, have different talents, interests, and
abilities. Let us address student diversity
instead of trying to make students all alike, an
exercise in futility.
15. Stop developing standards by committee. This
activity does not add value. Instead it is a
waste of resources. We know what to do. Remember,
we are the experts.
16. Understand that the Halliburtons of
education, the testing and publishing companies
only care about making money.
17. Get rid of the fear and punishment model ala
NCLB and high stakes testing. They take away
precious energy.
18. Quit comparing schools. Schools by their very
nature are different, because the people in
schools are diverse.
19. Look at diversity as an asset, instead of a
liability.
20. Give teachers a role in academic governance.
21. Have administrators that teach as part of
their jobs. Many administrators have forgotten
what it is like to be in the classroom.
22. Allow teachers to select the school
administration from the ranks of the teachers,
and have the administrator rotate back into the
classroom.
23. Learn from other countries.
24. Allow for the diverse learning styles and
interests of all students.
25. Focus on what students learn not what they
cannot do.
26. Get rid of the concept of mastery for it is
an oxymoron. We never ever really master
anything.
27. Provide teachers with the materials and
resources they need. Many teachers spend their
own money on the children they teach. What
profession so willingly does this?
28. Quit blaming teachers for the ills of
society.
29. Quit insisting that we adopt whatever
solutions has been most recently concocted as a
panacea. There is no silver bullet or magic
formula.
30. Understand that teaching is a "real time"
endeavor and teachers orchestrate many things at
the same time.
31. Understand that teaching is mentally,
emotionally, and physically draining.
32. Think about your great teachers, and talk
about them, for they are true the true heroes and
heroines, not the celebrities.
33. Provide planning time so we can thoughtfully
do our jobs.
34. Understand the difference between training
and education, justice and the law, religion and
morality, knowledge and isolated facts.
35. Understand that the curricular areas are
connected and that our job is to help students
make connections, not just teach isolated facts.
36. Provide us with resources for parent
education for parents are our allies.
37. Understand that the best people to determine
how well a student is doing are the student
himself/herself, the teachers, and the
parents/guardians in consort with one another.
38. Understand that no high stakes test score can
even begin to tell one all there is about
learning. Standardized testing results are only
broad strokes and are culturally biased and
limiting, and this practice does not add value,
but detracts.
39. Quit ranking, sorting, categorizing, and
labeling students, schools, and teachers for it
is demoralizing. People blossom at different
times and at rates.
40. Stop micro-managing teachers and schools.
41. And for crying out loud, quit saying that we
need better-qualified teachers. We are qualified
or we'd be eaten alive by our students.
42. Walk in our shoes for just a week without
anyone telling you what to do. You would crawl
out the classroom.
43. And quit managing by fear and punishment and
thinking that the only thing that motivates us is
money.
44. Understand that we are educating for human
greatness - the long haul, not just for students
to pass some high stakes test.
46. Remember the importance of local control and
small school districts for they are better able
to respond to student needs and this ever
changing society.
45. Think before you open your mouth and say
another dumb thing about teachers. Know what you
don't know, and you don't know teaching. Don't
think that you have the answer for us, and quit
using education as a political football. Quit
being so arrogant and get out of our way. Support
us, and do no harm to us. Thank teachers.

How about the government sponsoring a National
Teacher Appreciation Week. Now that would be
something of importance.

Yvonne Siu-Runyan, Ph.D. is a professional
educator with 40 years of experience. She has
taught grades K-12 (inclusive) in imaginable and
unimaginable situations in Hawai'i, Michigan,
Ohio, Colorado, and California. She has even
taught in a one-room schoolhouse in a community
of 200. In addition, Siu-Runyan has taught all
levels in higher education - undergraduates,
post-bac, master's and doctoral degree students.
She has worked also at the administration center
and provided in-depth inservice education to many
teachers from various school districts and
communities. She is published in refereed
international, national, and state publications,
and has presented internationally, nationally,
state-wide, and locally. A woman of color, she
understands the power and value of diversity. She
thanks her teachers!


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