Thank you for entrusting your students with us every day! We love our job and our hope is that we will be and do exactly what each student needs to be successful in life! Teaching is not an easy profession! Over the years I have watched the changes in education both good and bad. I started my teaching career in Houston, Texas in 1983...yes, I said 1983 which is before most of you reading this were born! I taught 8th grade advanced Earth Science and 7th-grade math and went on to teach 7th Grade Life Science as well as ESL Life Science. I student taught in first grade and then was placed in the middle school to teach math and science. It was an eye-opening experience, to say the least, and a scary one too! Every day there were fights and disagreements, disrespectful behavior to adults and students and I learned pretty quickly that these students were acting out in order to hide the fact that they could not do the work...many of them were reading on a first grade level in middle school! Getting control of a class of 35 middle school 8th graders to teach Earth Science and 10 of them reading on a first-grade level was pretty daunting. This is when I knew that our education system was failing our kids.
Over the years people have tried new programs, new teaching methods, scripted lessons, new administrators with new ideas, etc. The problem is there is not a program, a teaching method, or a scripted lesson that is going to make a student learn better it is the TEACHER and what she/he does each day that will make or break the learning for a student. It is teaching children how to have a growth mindset and model it every day as a teacher. Every child comes to school wanting to learn and somehow as parents and teachers we tend to squash that love of learning because we get too fixed on grades, how they measure up to other students, their state test scores, etc. We forget that every child does not learn in the same way or at the same speed as other children. Children are unique little individuals and learn best when given a teacher who makes a relationship with them and finds new ways to help them learn when they are not "getting it" and at the same time reassures them that learning is a process and they will succeed. This is where the job gets even harder! This is where teachers stay up at night trying to find ways to help a student so they can be successful and feel good about themselves, they reflect and look at what they are doing and change if needed, they throw out scripted lessons and teach to the needs of their class which means a lot of work on their part because it is not all packaged and pretty. Teachers deal with parents who want their child to be an A student and who have no idea that an A really means nothing in the big scheme of things! Teachers want parents to focus more on how their child is progressing because growth is much more important than a grade. During my teaching career, some of my highest students in the classroom were afraid to step out and try something that was hard for them because they were afraid of not knowing something and did not want to expose themselves to that type of struggle. They came into the grade level pretty much able to do all the work and they made great grades but as a teacher I wanted to push them to take on the next level of learning and sadly they choose to not move forward but wanted to stay were they were because I believe they were conditioned to focus on grades and not on growing themselves and learning new things.
I think as parents and teachers we want to help our students WANT to be a part of their learning and to spread the message that it is okay to struggle or grapple with learning, that through hard work and perseverance you will get better and succeed! This is the best life lesson we can give them. Those students with a growth mindset will many times surpass their straight A peers because they have learned to love the process of learning which involves struggling and not always knowing the answers! Our job force of the future will be looking for people who are able to think, be creative, are tech-savvy, and are open to a lifelong approach to learning! NOTHING is off limits if you have embraced learning and have a growth mindset! It is the secret that at some point everyone who has a say in education will figure out and will begin looking at kids as individuals and not as statistics on a test.