Teacher’s Job description

Some will say that bureaucracy has always been a problem in education but I had never experienced it first hand for the most part.  Yeah…of course I had run into administrators who had never taught a day in their life but wanted a career in education that paid them more than the measly salary offered to a teacher…BUT I had also run into some amazing administrators who cared about the kids and understood what teachers go through from the perspective of an educator first.  Those people were a teacher’s best ally.  They took care of the discipline and made sure the school would run properly in order to facilitate the teacher’s job- to TEACH!…RIGHT!…The teacher’s job is “to teach.” Unfortunately, this seems to be no longer the case.  Over time, teaching has also become a performing career.  Teachers need to stand up in front of the kids and jump and sing and clap and motivate, motivate, motivate!  Okay…that I can handle!  (That’s where my previous career in singing and acting really came in handy!)…THEN…little by little, more and more entered the job description:

  • Educate the students who won’t come to school.
  • Parent the students who don’t have parents at home making them come to school.
  • Teach the students who are in the room but if the kids who haven’t come to school in weeks show up, “please” make sure to devote your class time to them instead!  Make sure you get those students all of the information they missed so they can pass the class.
  • Don’t fail students.  If you do, you will be called in to justify your actions.  Perhaps you didn’t do enough to make sure they would pass? 
    • Did you try spending your lunch running down the street after them with a quiz they missed?   
    • How about dropping the 5 lowest test grades that they may have missed? 
    • Did you call home to talk to the parent or guardian who says “I don’t know what to do with him” or “I can’t get him to go to school”?
    • Don’t punish the students or hold them accountable for any work because if they are in danger of dropping out of school, this will turn them off to coming to school.
    • If a student doesn’t like the assignment you give, give him/her an alternate assessment that he/she does like.
    • Be told on a daily basis by the district that you are “lucky to have a job” and that they are just doing you a favor to keep you.
    • Be told by the public that they “pay your salary and you have no right to say that my child can’t light the bathroom on fire!  What did you do to make my child want to light it on fire?”
    • Be beaten up by the state and threatened year after year that your pay will be directly linked to how high your student’s grades are….oh yeah…BUT you also need to give each child an opportunity to take the highest level of math or science even if their previous performance demonstrated large math or science deficiencies.
    • Be told by nasty, unknowledgeable people who have never taught, that you get paid too much and shouldn’t have any health insurance because if you were in “the private sector, you would have to pay $10,000 a year for the plan you have.”  Of course the 6 years of college required to become a teacher isn’t easily paid off with the $54k per year.  Perhaps if you worked in the private sector with your education level, the $85k per year you should earn might give you a fighting chance at being able to pay for that health insurance for yourself.  

Oh well…Is it really true then that a teaching job is no longer a job where you can feel fulfilled and happy every day?  Sadly, it’s very hard to just come to work and do your best at giving children the education they deserve (and one day might look back at and be glad to have had!)  Too much is involved that puts a negative spin on education.  I love my kids!  Every single day one of them does something that makes me want to smile or look back on at the end of the day and feel great about being a part of.  Unfortunately, with all of the other obligations attached to education now, teachers have their hands tied when it comes to doing what they do best: TEACHING!  We work to better ourselves by constantly updating our education and/or methods- new technology, new innovative lesson plans, interdisciplinary units that are tailored to different student learning styles and individual strengths…AND yet we still feel beaten up and underappreciated for our efforts on a daily basis.  The fact is that once the amazing feeling I get when I feel like I’m making a difference in childrens’ lives has been removed from the job description and I no longer feel effective as an educator, there is really no reason to get up every morning and do it. I could go get a much higher paying job with my education and skills that could suck the life out of me just the same. 

So what am I going to do now?  Well?…I’m not quite ready to throw in the towel yet.  I’m still searching for that magic that was in my classroom for the first 12 years of my career.  I have decided that in order to have a great year teaching, I need to find a way to not allow all of the extra negative experiences that have been pushed down by politics, rules, regulations, NYS, etc. ,to overshadow the great ones.  Don’t get me wrong, this could get a little bit rocky!  I have no doubt that I will spew off some negative garbage from time to time!  I apologize in advance for this.  I do promise however, that I will try to put a positive spin on the stories in order to find a peaceful resolution within myself and for my readers…hopefully before I end the entry…or at the very least , soon after.  Please join me on my journey as I try to educate our children by giving them experiences that will shape them into young adults!  Who knows? Maybe even one or more of them will one day have enough vision to be able to make real changes in education that will put the emphasis back on the student and stop simply moving kids from one “list” to another and blaming everyone along the way.  My new method may not fall under the new mandated “data driven instruction”, BUT I’m going to stick to loving each and every one of my children and making my classroom the most positive experience in their day!…As for the data that will tally my personal classroom performance?…Here is the rubric* I have devised for a daily assessment:

My Classroom Rubric 2012-2013:

  • 0 points – All students stormed out of my room crying.
  • 1 point – Only a few students stormed out of my room crying.
  • 2 points – Students stayed in the room but acted annoyed and texted all period.
  • 3 points– Students smiled but clearly weren’t listening.
  • 4 points– Students were happy and listening but I need to restructure how I taught the lesson because I’m not sure that anyone really understood a word I was saying.
  • 5 points– Students smiled, closely listened, grasped the material, laughed when appropriate, and loved coming here today! (I LOVE my life!)

*Rubric:  a tool used to assess assignments by giving a point value to a set of criteria.


One thought on “Teacher’s Job description

  1. What’s Next?

    As an educator who has loved my thirty years in the classroom, I have to admit that I have regrettably witnessed and experienced a plethora of educational “fads” come and go in the course of my professional journey. What all of these “reforms” have in common is the hope and dream that “if we just implement this new way of doing things” the current state of education will vastly improve. .

    So, what’s the latest fad in New York State’s attempt to right the wrongs of earlier failed policies? In May 2010, the New York State Legislature — in an effort to secure federal Race to the Top funds — approved an amendment to Educational Law 3012-c regarding the Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) of teachers and principals. The new law states that beginning September 2012, all teachers and principals will receive a number from 0-100 to rate their performance. Part of that number (ranging from 20% to 40%) will be derived from how well students perform on standardized tests. At first glance, using test scores might seem like a reasonable approach to accountability. As designed, however, these regulations carry unintended negative consequences for our schools and students that simply cannot be ignored. These regulations are seriously flawed, and our schools and students will bear the brunt of their poor design.

    First, there is no evidence that evaluation systems that incorporate student test scores produce gains in student achievement. Student test scores have not been found to be a strong predictor of the quality of teaching as measured by other instruments or approaches. In the absence of any empirical data to support such an approach, why are we proceeding down this path?” Answer: “It’s the law — and if we don’t, state funding for our schools will be withheld.” These laws were enacted by politicians to serve political ends — not educational ones. These politicians are “numbers” people who are looking for a bottom line – but at what cost to our students and society? Research makes clear that meaningful and lasting learning does not take place under duress, yet another “fear based” culture is being created in our school systems from the top down. Administrators fear their schools won’t make the grade. Teachers fear that their students won’t do well enough on the dreaded yet required end-of-the-year exam. And students are caught in the crosshairs of this ever increasing, stress producing testing machine factory. Once again, learning will take a backseat to what students are being taught is the more important question: “What did I get?”
    Second, when a teacher’s livelihood is directly impacted by his or her students’ scores on an end-of-year examination, test scores become the be all and end all of a teacher‘s focus. With this focus on end of year testing, there inevitably will be a narrowing of the curriculum as teachers concentrate their energy more on test preparation and skill and drill teaching. Both teacher creativity and students’ intellectual curiosity get quashed having now taken a backseat to the almighty test. The human side of education gets lost in the milieu.

    The following is a letter written by a Principal to his teachers.

    Dear teacher,

    I am a survivor of a concentration camp. My eyes saw what no man should witness — gas chambers built by learned engineers. Children poisoned by by educated physicians. Infants killed by trained nurses. Women and babies shot and burned by high school and college graduates.

    So, I am suspicious of education.

    My request is this: Help your children become more human. Your efforts must never produce learned monsters, skilled psychopaths, or educated Eichmanns. Reading, writing, and arithmetic are important, only if they serve to make our children more humane.

    Many “brilliant” individuals have committed horrific atrocities in the history of human civilization. It is very likely that these same people would have performed very well on standardized achievement tests — yet their education would be profoundly lacking. Teachers are trying to help produce better human beings — not just better test takers.

    Do we as educators have a responsibility to hold our students and ourselves to the highest standards of accountability? Absolutely, as anything less would be an abandonment of our mission. It is essential, however, that we be wary of jumping on yet another undocumented and unresearched reform bandwagon that will, by its inherent nature, hinder rather than achieve this desired end.

    John Perricone
    309 Norton Ave
    Endwell, N.Y 13760
    (607) 785-1362

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