This picture says it all! Is this how we all feel? I believe so! Like many other teachers in Connecticut, I am in the middle of Teacher Evaluation and implementing Common Core State Standards into my teaching and curriculum. It is exhausting work…it is confusing at times, it is nerve-wracking, and it is time consuming. Between the new teacher evaluation system and implementing the CCSS, many of us are questioning our own professional judgment, experience, actions, intentions and competence. Those of us who felt confident in our teaching expertise, in a career and field that we love and cherish, are now second-guessing ourselves.
I recently read an article in the Hartford Courant titled, “Why I Want To Give Up Teaching” by Elizabeth A. Natale, an English and Language Arts teacher at Sedgwick Middle School in W. Hartford http://www.courant.com/news/opinion/hc-op-natale-teacher-ready-to-quit-over-common-cor-20140117,0,6264603.story. While reading this story, initially, I thought to myself, “Wow, someone FINALLY said it! Thank you!”. You see, I don’t think that many lawmakers, “higher ups”, dare I say it…parents, always know or appreciate all of the hard work, dedication, planning, executing, heart and soul that goes into teaching. It is so much more than tests, data collection, documentation, standardization and accountability. All of those criteria are very important, yes, but what about our love of our profession and the students that we teach. Isnt’ that what Natale was really getting at?
Teaching is such a rewarding career…teaching has changed my life in so many ways. Although, like many other educators in Connecticut, I understand and agree with much of what Natale stated in her Op-Ed piece. However, I can’t imagine walking away from my profession. More now than ever, our students need us. They need experienced teachers to take the lead in this new charge that is CCSS, teacher evaluation and the new Smarter Balance Assessment. Our students (and newer teachers) need to see their more experienced teachers unaffected by these changes. Rather, we need to represent a solid and consistent force and take all of these changes head on. We need to become more involved and be part OF the change, rather then let these changes happen TO us.
I encourage our teacher candidates to tread forward and embrace these new challenges that they face. In fact, I believe that our teacher candidates are in an excellent position to “take on” all of these new challenges. Let’s face it, it’s a lot more difficult for us experienced teachers to accept these new changes to education than it will be for someone who does not know any different. I also encourage our veteran teachers to “hang in there”. As we all know too well, change is always more difficult at the beginning. Sooner or later we find our way and things that were once difficult become the norm once again. Our students deserve to have the best teachers and that is who we are!