Nightmares Teaching Today

In theory, teaching looks like the ideal job. All those school holidays. In Europe, every six weeks we have vacation. We even shut down for the week long ski break to hit the slopes. But there is no escape. Even on mountaintops, teachers obsess about how to reach kids. For today’s students, conditioned by instant gratification in a society wired 24/7, attention spans last no longer than 15 seconds, the time it takes to microwave a muffin.

Academic staples like reading, writing, ‘rithmetic? Forget it. Kids learn grammar off twitter, spelling by MSN, and math on calculators.
At conferences, parents plead, “Rescue our child.”How do you save a kid that hates to read and write?   Fill the house with books and unplug TVs.Students that read the most, write best.Children who were read to in homes with books learn to value the old fashioned printed word.At the rate we are going, I fear that reading, like letter writing, will become a lost art!
At my school, report writing requires a special language degree.Every trimester, teachers write novelettes on each child’s progress in all disciplines. Between marking periods, we remain on call available round the clock via email and cell phones.
Teaching is tougher than ever.Even once loved courses, like physical education, are a hard sell.Getting kids to move these days is like pulling teeth. Why put one foot in front of the other when the world beckons at one’s fingertips without budging an inch? Competing with Internet, wifi, and 1001 channels on television screens the size of football fields; teaching has become a losing battle.
In real life drama, people relocate, families’ collapse, loved ones die; educators deal with the fall out.Sh** happens.

Educators fill gaps in a world gone wild. As kids whiz through childhood at a reckless pace during rapid social change, teachers’ roles altered drastically.Information abounds.Yet kids still need adults to help interpret the « info-net. » With more attention deficit kids (i.e. regular children craving adult attention not ADD), never has the need for good teachers been greater, the kind of teacher that lies awake at night concerned about students’ well being.There is no time off.Teachers are always updating lesson plans, grading papers, counseling kids, answering late night phone calls and early morning emails.

Yet the worst part about teaching is not the day, but the night. In endless nightmares, I thrash about, looking for classroom doors, searching for mid term papers, forgetting locker combinations(I don’t even own a locker!) One night I dream that I lost control of a classroom full of ADHD kids while my new principal observed. The next, I am scribbling on the board with my hand severed at the wrist.  Then, I wake up and start over again.After a gulp of coffee, I head back on the front line, saving lives, one lesson at a time.
No child left behind…
Posted in education, social view.

2 Comments

  1. Pat that sounds grueling! On the plus side if you want kids who read and write you don't even have to unplug stuff–just read to them read to them read to them. My kids are HUGE readers (as well as consumers of electronic media) and writers because we read to them every night from the time they were born until they were old enough to read to each other or themselves.

    RE: French mamas–I can't even imagine trying to keep up with that! At least no one expects me to be super mom in HIGH HEELS! I lived in Madrid in the early 80s and really, those women were like creatures from another planet with their gorgeous long hair and full faces of makeup and heels on cobblestones. I'm still running around in my Converse.

  2. Judy- you sound like me. I agree totally. For my kids to learn English in a French speaking home, school and country, I read to them non stop. As teens they used to walk up and down stairs reading and hide open books in their laps at the dinner table (a real French taboo!)

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