03 July 2006

Teachers have it easy

Recently in our local paper, there was yet another article about how teachers get paid a ridiculous sum of money for the amount they actually work.

I'll dispense with my usual invitation to come and follow me around for an entire day and see how hard I work because then you'd actually have to find me, and I prefer to stay anonymous in the great, nebulous realm of cyberspace. However, when discussing the article with several non-teachers, I made the following point that I feel bears repeating here.

If you don't think we work hard enough, then make us work harder. How do you do that? It’s easy-—send your children to school prepared.

My workload would easily double if all of my students did all of their homework every single night. In the honors classes I teach, I estimate that about 95% of my students do their homework on a regular basis. This number falls off to about 60% in my college-prep classes, and 30% in the basic-level classes. As a result, I spend less time outside of work grading for those classes, and more time during the class period reviewing the material, since most of the class didn’t do the assignments designed to help students review at home so that we can move on in the material during class.

If all of my classes were honors classes, there would be no way that I would be able to keep up the workload.

Fortunately for me, not all of my students are so motivated, and I'm able to have an occasional foray out into the "real world" unaccompanied by a stack of papers to correct; but while an occasional grading-free night is welcome, the reality is that I would prefer that more of my students put in more effort.

So make sure your students come with the proper supplies, the proper attitude, fed, well-rested, free of electronic distractions, and ready to learn, and then I’d have to waste less class time on making sure everyone is ready to go and more time actually teaching. If you already send your child to school prepared and ready to learn, thank you.

If you don’t currently have children in high school, feel free to come by and see what your tax dollars are paying for. Go to school plays, concerts, awards nights, back-to-school night in September. Talk to the teachers and ask them what they are doing in their classrooms.

Ask them if their students are coming prepared and ready to learn, and how it affects their ability to teach when the students haven’t done their homework or eaten breakfast or gone to sleep at a reasonable hour the previous night.

The more students that come prepared to learn, the more time teachers will have to spend outside of school hours correcting assignments and preparing material.

Personally, I don't know where I'd get more time--Señor Esposo (my husband) already thinks I spend too much time grading as is. But if the students work harder, I'll find a way to keep up with them.


At 2:17 PM, Blogger happychyck said...

Excellent point! I taught honors classes this past year and had a lot more paperwork (not to mention more in depth planning) than the year before when I taught regular classes. In fact, the regular classes I had were largely non-performing DURING class time. Returned homework was about 10%. I spent a ton of time reviewing, and honestly I could basically teach those classes in my sleep. It's probably true that the the public didn't get their money's worth out of me.

My principal reminds us that the parents are sending us the best kids they have, so we have to work with it. In those regular classes I had to work a lot on work ethic and social skills, plus trying to convince the students how smart they really were and how important it was for them to develop their skills. If the students were more prepared in coming to me I could have certainly moved on to more challenging things--more academic things.

At 6:07 PM, Blogger La Maestra said...

I really think that while most of the time the kids are the best they can be, the parents haven't always done the best job they could have done in preparing them for school. And I'm not talking about fancy test prep classes or acceleration or tutoring, I'm talking about making school an important factor in their children's lives, and making sure their kids take school seriously and respect their teachers.

As long as the minds are open and willing, I can do a lot with that. It's when parents choose not to push the students to have open and willing minds that my job gets difficult.


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