A Note to Teachers

My Fellow Educators,

After reading the LA Times article “Who’s teaching L.A.’s Kids?” I was very upset and frustrated even to the point of deciding to leave teaching all together. A good friend of mine (who I met in teacher’s scholar program) also expressed grave concerns about the direction of teaching in light of this article. She also considered leaving the teaching profession. We have worked through our frustrations and have decided to stay. My hope is that you the same do not leave this wonderful profession.

I agree with many of the teachers I have talked to personally or electronically. The attack on teachers has intensified at levels not seen in many of our life times. We all know there are bad teachers and that some of those bad teachers should consider other careers. However, we know that evaluating a teacher largely on one giant assessment is just plain wrong and is not good teaching. We surely don’t evaluate our students just on one written tests and/or quiz and fail them completely if their scores are low.

I am urging you to stick with it. Not for yourself, but for your students. Many of the “reforms” from the Obama Administration do not end up affecting the students in affluent urban/suburban districts. These reforms are affecting YOU, the teacher who decided to work in that tough school in the hopes of facilitating a positive connection/change in someone’s life. That is why most of us are teachers in the first place.

So I ask you to cling!

-Cling to the days when you played “school” with your stuffed animals, because it was fun.

-Cling to the days when you ran across that particularly special or inspiring teacher that you emulate in your current pedagogy, because you were inspired.

-Cling to the day you declared your major in early childhood, primary, secondary, or special education, because you were driven.

-Cling to the frustrating days of student teaching, because you were tenacious.

-Cling to the day you walked into your first classroom and smiled, because you were ready.

-Cling to the hope that you work will not be in vain, that you are making a difference, and that you are willing to grow and develop, because you are TEACHER!

Good luck this year TEACHERS!

-Martin Palamore

TEACH for them!

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About mpal219
Educator, Student, Reader, Reformer, & Activist

2 Responses to A Note to Teachers

  1. John says:

    I am all for teachers and support them with everything I have. However, schools must get rid of tenure if they want to see improvements across the board and ultimately see less “teacher bashing”. Being forced to keep the bad teachers only hurts the profession. Having a yearly, or biyearly contract is one thing. Having a job for life is another. I can’t think of another profession that grants practically permanent employment as tenure does in the teaching profession.

    Tenure ensures that the under-performing teachers can continue to underperform…something you’d not get away with in practically any other profession. I see it here at the college where I work. These faculty don’t want to change or do anything different, even if it would benefit their students and the entire college community. Yet, you can’t get rid of them or even politely threaten them with recommendations on job performance evals. Oh wait … they don’t get job perf evals (at least at this college). After 3 years here, they make their case for tenure, and practically every one of them is granted it. But why? Ultimately, it is not worth it in both the K-12 and higher ed worlds..

    • mpal219 says:

      Hi John,

      I agree with you in that the tenure structure needs reform, but getting rid of the structure is not the answer. I think the root problem is there is a lack of accountability for both K-12 teachers and Higher Ed professors once they become tenured. Tenure needs to be seen as something that is earned and is not a automatic facet of education. I would suggest that tenure teachers/professors are required to log in a number of professional development hours to keep them fresh/current, to be evaluated (at a higher standard) by peers, principals/dept/chairs, students, and parents (in K-12), and to be given probation and risk losing tenure forever if they don’t improve in the time allotted by their administrators.

      I agree with you tenure should not be a blank cheque, but it is an important part of the education system that rewards and secures good teacher/professors to stay in your school. The tenure system (when it works) helps add to the community and with a few tweaks I believe it can serve that purpose again.

      Thank you for your comments! Keep reading the “War on Mediocrity”

      -Martin

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