Saturday, September 02, 2006

The Fourth Week of School

Hmmm... This week was pretty uneventful. If you don't count missing half my classes on Monday due to the ever-fun and exciting fundraiser assembly. Don't get me wrong, I understand that the PTO needs money. They do all sorts of wonderful things for the teachers at my school. These include: breakfasts from Chic-Fil-A, class sets of books, various other classroom stuff, little goodies during Teacher Appreciation Week, and a steak lunch at the end of the year. They are super nice people, who always seem to be smiling when you see them. (That part can be creepy, but whatever.) What I don't like about fundraisers is the lame prizes. Oooo, if you sell just ONE item, you get these "cool" blinking sunglasses. If you sell 10, you get to miss class to go out to lunch and ride in a limo. If you sell 20, you get out of class early to watch the BMX bikers. I mean, seriously. BMX bikers? I teach at a school that is primarily low-income. How many of these kids really want to watch a couple of guys do tricks on their bikes? Of course, they DO get to skip class.

And that's another issue. Is this fundraiser stuff teaching the students that making money and selling things (which are cheap and badly made) is more important than learning and going to school? I mean, they are getting them out of class. Sometimes more than once, since the limo lunch and BMX things are actually on different days. Nice. I think it would be different if they held these events after school. But then the students wouldn't be as motivated to sell and raise money, would they? Oh well, I lose.

That was about all for this week. I'm still fighting a losing battle with my 8th graders' mouths. I tried the "stand at the front of the room and glare at them silently" approach. They ignored me completely. I tried yelling "HUSH!" at the top of my lungs. That worked. For about 10 seconds until the shock wore off and I actually began the lesson. Then they started up again. I've started giving them pop quizzes when they won't be quiet. That seems to be working with one class. The other one is beyond hope. There are just too many bodies in one room - right. after. lunch. Ugh!! Again, I lose.

However, this reminds me about a 20/20 special I watched about 10 minutes of last night. I was then so incensed that I asked my hubs to turn it off, lest I attack the man in front of the camera. I believe the name of it was "Stupid in America." It was about how public schools are making students dumber. Oh, man, did it push my buttons! I have no illusions about working in public education. I know that it sucks. I know that the schools are tough, and the kids are rowdy, the halls are crowded, and there are kids slipping through the cracks. These things need to be changed. However, this special placed all the blame on the teachers, and that is where the issue lies.

It is not all our fault. Yes, there are bad teachers out there. There are boring teachers. There are teachers who have no business being anywhere near students, because they are stupid! BUT, there are a lot of really good teachers out there. There are teachers who make almost every day fun and exciting for students. Teachers who love to teach. Teachers who are so brilliant, it almost hurts to be near them. But do the news shows do stories about them. No, because that's not going to sell. Who wants to hear about that cool English teacher who dresses up like a genie and calls herself "Grammar Genie" when it's time to start the boring stuff? Who wants to hear about the science teacher who lets the kids disect a cow's eye and worms and cockroaches? Who wants to hear about the history teacher who has the kids write and perform their own monologues, dressed up as a key historical figure? Who wants to hear about the Latin teacher who has the students make up songs to learn about the imperfect tense? (yeah, that's me)

No one.

And that is sad. It hurts me to the core that our education system is as bad as it is. It is half the teachers fault. But the other half of the blame goes home to the parents. The parents who let their children stay on the Internet half the night, and the other half the night on their cell phones. The parents who send their kids to the local park to play ball instead of doing their homework. The parents who don't sit down and read with their elementary students, then wonder why the kid is reading below grade level a few years later. The parents who can't follow simple instructions like "Not a drop-off area." They are showing their children that learning isn't important. That THEY aren't important. It all starts at home. We need parents to teach their children that learning is important. That respect is important. That THEY ARE IMPORTANT.

And now I will get off my soapbox.


Sayre said...

Well you can just call me your official cheering section! I am so with you... the blame should lay squarely on the parents. Not only are they not making their kids do their homework, they're feeding their kids junk so their brains and bodies don't work to their full potential; they're not making sure the kids get a good night's rest; they're not making sure the kids get enough exercise; and they're not teaching their children how to behave and respect the people who are working for THEM. Yes, it's tough to do, hard to fit it all in. But at least you try. I want to make sure my son gets the best education he can from the public school system. I'm not rich. I cannot afford to send him to a private school - but you know? Those kids aren't any better off for the exact same reasons as the public school kids.

I admire teachers. I wish I were cut out to be one (but I'm not). I do what I can in my own arena of public television - but TV cannot replace a teacher.

I can get right up there on the soap box with you, Mama C!

Mama C said...

Thanks, Sayre. It can get really frustrating sometimes, being a teacher. I'm not always sure I'm cut out for it either. I have to pray, and pray, and pray every single day. As a future preacher's wife, my kids will also enjoy the fruits of the public school system. Unless we can convince a congregation to start their own private school... Now there's an idea!