The Glass is Actually Half Full

By: Professor Eric Conrad

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  • A severely disabled 10 year old  said “I love you mama” for the first time using an app on her iPad.
  • A child who’s father died  finds solace and inspiration in having his first male teacher for fifth grade.  A true mentor.
  • A group of fourth and fifth grade students began a coat drive to aid local disadvantaged families.
  • A child progresses nearly two grade levels in reading in one year.  Her teacher was persistent and found the right instructional interventions.
  • A veteran teacher of 32 years expresses that using the Smartboard to teach math is the greatest educational experience she’s ever had.  To watch her interact with her children is magical.

These and similar events occur every day in every school.

The educational system is currently in the midst of one of the largest scale changes in history.  It’s messy, frustrating, and at points demeaning.  Many people are quick to offer a synopsis of the negative events and initiatives that are making their jobs and likely their daily lives miserable.

Oddly, when I first began teaching 14 years ago, my district was undergoing a widespread change in both curriculum and teacher evaluation. Deja Vue, right?    I was constantly hearing many negative things about every choice that was made for the system.  How in the past things worked great and the new ways were bogged-down with problems.  Eventually, the dust settled, and most people found that what was in place was not nearly as bad as they thought.  In fact, some of what was being done was better.  The weird thing though, was that as a new teacher, I heard the grumblings, but didn’t understand.  First, I had no prior knowledge to serve as a benchmark for comparison and second, I loved almost every moment that I was with my students and that trumped all of the adult “nonsense” that constantly swirled around.

Currently, we know that what we’re doing is not working well enough.  Not for all students, not for  preparing them for the future workplace.  Our world has changed drastically in a relatively short period of time.   This has set he educational pendulum is swinging once again. Watching and waiting to see where it settles is not comfortable, but teachers, if nothing else, are flexible and always persevere.

So something to consider:  As members of the educational system, we each have the ability to  inspire future teachers;  to an extent farther than we believe or are aware of.   We guide their beliefs and help shape how they will approach their children and how they will in-turn inspire them.  Continue to pass along the positive message, that regardless of what the new evaluation program looks like, despite what negatives you may hear, contrary to what new mandates politicians push through, educators make all the difference and teaching continues to be  one of the most rewarding vocations there is.

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