Primary Sources: will it help change things?

teacherTake a look at the Primary Sources website. This is an encouraging, positive look at the way teachers actually think and feel. Unfortunately, it’s not a real view of the everyday experiences of many teachers….well, yes, it’s a good picture of teachers working with students from day to day, but not such a great picture of the onerous extra tasks that teachers are saddled with, such as increased paperwork, endless meetings (unpaid), unpaid extracurricular assignments, burdensome and rather useless evaluations (though in the report, many teachers say they benefit from such evals), and the pressures of high-stakes testing.

That sounds grouchy, doesn’t it? We were at a restaurant yesterday, my husband and I, and our server was a student preparing to become an elementary teacher. As we entered the restaurant, we were discussing how education has become such an onerous field to enter, particularly since the culture pretty much blames teachers for everything that goes wrong. That really is a good view of things, in my opinion; think about how teachers (and their schools, eventually) bear the burden of student test scores. If students do not do well, who is responsible? The teachers and eventually the schools are! The inherent pressure of this, including the moves by made states to grade schools and to grade teachers (A-
F) and eventually base salaries and employment on these scores, all these pressures have to influence teachers’ performance.

Yet here was this beautiful, fresh-faced young woman ready to do her student teaching.283401581_bd9f0e3d46_zSeeing her, I realized that whatever I have to complain about in teaching, good people, good teachers, will continue to do the work and wait for the “pendulum to swing,” as we teachers like to say, to swing in the direction of more humanity and less regimentation, so we can teach our best in a better environment.

Will that study change anything? I do not think so, but it changes me, because it reminds me that good people will continue to do the work of good teaching despite whatever educational “trends” are thrown at them by legislators who do not know what it is like in a real classroom or school.

As I read the Primary Sources report, I thought to myself: good teachers, devoted teachers, real teachers think past all the negative in education. They teach, just as all good teachers before them, for the love of kids and for their subjects.


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