Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Letter from a Bronx Teacher that Everyone Mandating More Testing For Our Public Schools Should Read

Hi Mark,

I just read your piece entitled, "When Teachers Become Overseers...." and it made me cry. I think of myself as one of those "sensitive, creative and compassionate" teachers that you spoke about. I understand the importance of building relationships with my children to foster personal growth, trust and a desire to learn. Each day I do something to connect with my 8th grade "bubalas". I feed them daily. I conference with them about school work or personal issues. We set social growth goals such as "be kinder to Jonathan". We write thank you notes and go on many school trips. I play catch with them at lunchtime. I've taken them bowling or out for dinner as a reward for their academic efforts. I handwrite notes to them at Thanksgiving and
Christmas. It's such a love fest in my room, that, without thinking, the kids often call me "mom". I believe, with all my heart, that it is this nurturing environment that has, in large part, been responsible for my success as a teacher.

However, the other day I was anything but a caring, thoughtful teacher (I'm literally crying as I type this).A student of mine had diarrhea and rather than send him home right away, I kept him in class so he could engage in test prep. I moved his seat closer to the door so he could go to the bathroom on an as-needed-basis but I didn't send him to the nurse. I thought to myself, "He cannot afford to be out while we are doing this." "He'll get better." Instead of thinking, "Oh the poor kid." No maternal instincts on that day just a steel eye set on the ELA test. Thank God my para had the good sense to pack him up. She, at least, maintained her humanity.

I know you cannot check off a box entitled, "demonstrates love for her students" on an evaluation sheet so perhaps I am still considered a good teacher. But in my mind, I failed that day and it haunts me. Does that incident foreshadow my future? Or will it serve as a warning to remind me of who I do not want to become?

Bronx Teacher

1 comment:

Liz said...

This blog is extensive, well-written and presented. I agree with you 100%.
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