This is an excerpt of a letter I just received from a veteran public school teacher in Philadelphia sent me, someone who has spent more than 25 years in that system. It represents a voice that has been erased from the debate over education policy. Please remember it the next time you hear a politician, or a business leader blame veteran teachers, not only for everything that is wrong with our schools, but everything that is wrong with our country.
I don't know what makes students like me, my classes or go beyond the call of duty to "help" me.
I am not pretty, I speak my mind whether it is deemed appropriate or not. I joke with them; by that I mean they are often the butt of my jokes. I am demanding; will not accept anything less than what I want from them.
I dog them at school and at home. I continuously "drop a dime" on them to their folks even though I don't know all the languages of students I teach. I exposure them to their peer group, but ONLY after they start with me first.
I will drag them to the Teacher's bathroom if they are infusing the classroom air I so graciously let them breathe with their body odor to bathe, counsel and groom them.
I teach them to write storybooks online, do PowerPoint presentations from grade 2 onward, have made them use Photoshop and Dreamweaver to do projects even though they are English Language Learners.
Even with ALL I do they deem I am in need of help. They are at the school door to carry my laptop and whatever else up 58 steps to my room. I am unable to prepare my own classroom for the first class' lesson without their help. I also need help to eat my lunch. I need help after school. I cannot lock my room or carry my things down at the end of the day. I need help to my car. I simply cannot survive without them, so they think.
After being such a ruthless, persnickety, demanding and ridiculously helpless individual, so many of my students tell me they want to be teachers when they grow up; just like me.
'Splain THAT Loo-cee!
Don't give up hope Mark.