Sunday, July 14, 2013

Appreciating Public Education

Teacher Appreciation Week
Humphreys American School PTO
Have you heard the old adage: Those that Can't...TEACH! Admittedly, I once fed into that mis-truth. Oh sure, we see teachers working 7am to 3pm with a nice and long Summer vacation.

We have heard National and State leaders such as President Obama commenting about the tireless dedication of teachers -- often spending funds from their own pockets to purchase classroom resources.

Another counterpoint is the plight of the dismal achievement statistics as related to an American Public School education. Students graduating without mastering reading literacy..employers unable to fulfill science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) related jobs due to an unskilled applicant pool. By and large, we blame teachers for the current state of educational affairs.

What I Learned...


After working as an Army Bandsman, Child Psychological Associate, Grocery Store manager, and a Federal Claims Adjudicator, I found myself working as a Substitute teacher with the Killeen, Texas school district. This wasn't a strictly voluntary decision; mostly a market-driven economic mandate. After completing a Troops-to-Teachers program certification, I hesitated to enter the teaching profession as a career. Perhaps it was due to hearing the old adage: Those that Can't...TEACH! 

My daily subbing experiences were quite diverse. One day I would facilitate a Pre-K class of 4 year olds. The next, a High School German class. Although I worked within one school district, my assignments encompassed 25 school campuses. Talk about a head-spinner...

I facilitated each class in accordance with the Teacher's daily lesson plan. In Texas, teachers use a program called C-Scope which is intricately aligned with Texas' TEKS and STAAR assessments. The lesson plan had to be effective, compliant, and make sense to the learning sensibilities of the respective class. High school teachers specialized..teaching one or two subject matters -- Elementary teachers taught all subjects to their classroom groups.

Those that CAN...TEACH!


My new mantra has changed with regard to the teaching profession. Perhaps I could get by with being a high school educator. I could teach psychology; or middle school mathematics. But All-day, Elementary school, Pre-K through 5th grade responsibilities are truly overwhelming. The gamut of teacher responsibilities are Huge!

Elementary teachers decorate their classrooms to marry with the seasonal themes of the curriculum. K-5 students have lots of projects and craft activities. Teachers communicate with Parents; students receive encouragement and discipline from their teachers. Leaving an indelible impression upon the minds and hearts of their students, teachers apply all of their spirit and will toward student achievement. In my own case, Ms Whitfield remains a major influence upon me..although it has been +40 years since I last experience her 2nd grade class.

Substitute (Subs) teaching offered snapshots of the 'Life of Teachers.' Profoundly disabled students -- Talented and Gifted Students -- Military Family Student with one or both parents serving their 2nd/3rd overseas deployments -- no two kids are the same. Classrooms with 17-25 students -- all unique, gifted, and demanding. Ahh..the Public Educator. God Bless Teachers, Aides/Principals and Subs. 

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