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NCLB Outrages

Let Teachers Do Their Jobs

Many people think that teachers choose their profession because of the vacations.

Discussing what teachers do in their so-called time off would be another column, but one of the most compelling reasons for pursuing a teaching career is the chance to renew every year.

Students aren't the only ones arriving to school on the first day with excitement and a little trepidation. Most of us spend a good part of our summers reflecting, learning, adding to our repertoire and preparing for that day in September when we meet our new students and begin again.

If only the authors of No Child Left Behind could understand the heart and mind of a teacher. I never knew a teacher who planned to leave a child behind. Let us do our job.

Suzie has a condition which necessitates her missing some school and going to the nurse frequently. Her teacher makes accommodations for her because he cares about her and knows she needs his help to succeed. It may mean writing individual plans, time researching the condition, etc. Let him do his job.

Johnny, after three days of school, is told he is moving to another state due to an unavoidable change in a parent's job situation. His teacher has already learned to appreciate Johnny's great sense of humor and contribution to class discussion. She rethinks grouping in the class and marvels at how, even though she has only known this child for three days, she will miss him. Let her do her job.

Claire has an I.Q. off the charts. Her teacher notices right away that she is quick to finish every task and looking for more. Not wanting to waste this enthusiasm for learning, her teacher that evening makes specific plans to enrich all his lessons so that Claire will be challenged. He makes sure not to present these challenges in a way that will embarrass Claire or make the other students feel inadequate. Let him do his job.

Bob arrives on day four of school. He has missed all the orientation activities, lists of supplies needed, syllabus discussion, team building, cafeteria rules, locker assigning, etc. He is obviously uncomfortable, nervous, and masking it with a not very engaging bravado. His teacher recognizes all of this at once and figures out a way to orient Bob, get him a buddy to help him acclimate, and boost his ego so he may drop the attitude. Let her do her job.

I love my job. I can't begin to describe its myriad facets. I can't begin to get someone who does not teach to understand the balance of intellect and emotion that must be found in order to teach well. Even if a teacher finds the right balance, I cannot describe to you the level of cooperation and collegiality that must exist among a school staff in order to make successful teaching possible.

Secretary of Education Rod Paige says that there are no mandates to comply with the rulings of the No Child Left Behind Act. If a school district doesn't want the federal funding, it does not have to comply. He says there are no failing schools, just schools in need of improvement. I would use those comments as a great opportunity to teach my students about euphemism and political rhetoric.

In addition, any good teacher knows that in order to get the best from her students, she needs to encourage them, not test and punish. Tests themselves are not the problem. We all need to learn about our strengths and weaknesses. Give teachers encouragement, as we give our students. Let us do our job.

BettyAnn Lauria is a middle school teacher in Yarmouth. Her column runs the third Monday of every month. E-mail her at tomlauria@comcast.net

— BettyAnn Lauria
Cape Cod Times


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