In the last ten years, the narrative about teaching and education has struck me as extremely negative. I hear about schools failing students and bad teachers hiding behind tenure.
As an educator pushing for innovative change in this space, I recognize that education must evolve to prepare students for an unknown future. However, the wonderful work teachers are doing every day is often lost in the conversation about education. Teachers are facing unprecedented pressure to “keep up with the times” despite often having little, to no, access to the tools and resources required to teach 21st-century students.
I’m convinced the general public has a very limited understanding of what a teacher’s typical day is like. My parents visited last week and volunteered in each of my children’s classrooms. My son’s 1st-grade teacher put them to work creating 24 little books made of cardboard and fabric that the students would use as the binding for a Valentine’s Day themed book. At the end of 2 hours, they finally finished the project. My son’s teacher gushed, “Thank you! I was going to take those home and do them tonight.”
My parents were astounded that this teacher was going to spend hours of her own time outside of class creating these books. I stared at them in disbelief. I reminded them that most teachers spend hours outside of class preparing for lessons and grading student work. I was surprised that even my own parents with a daughter in the teaching profession did not realize how much time teachers dedicate to their profession beyond the 8-3 PM school day.
In an effort to shine a light on the incredible work teachers do every day, Katrina Schwartz and Ki Sung at MindShift has started a podcast titled “Stories Teachers Share”. I encourage any teacher who has felt that the narrative around education does not reflect their daily reality with students to share their stories. We have an opportunity to help the larger community better understand what it really means to be a teacher.
Schwartz and Ki invite any teacher with a story to share to email them at MindShiftStories@kqed.org, call and leave a message at 415-553-2200, or record their story on a smartphone and send them the file.