Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Three Cheers for Public School Teachers

If I had had kids, I would probably have home schooled them. I love building things, making charts,  and going on adventures. I love the detailed attention and flexibility. I love how hands-on, personal-experience, interest-driven it can be. I love how families choose how-when-where-what their littles are learning. I love homeschooling.

My fourteen years as a teacher have taken place in private schools. Private schools are able to maintaina little autonomy while meeting certain standards. This balance allows teachers to have the freedom to think outside the box and teach to their strengths. Private schools are often small, allowing staff, students, and parents to connect regularly. I love private schools.

My public school experience has been limited to the thirteen years I spent between kindergarten and my high school graduation. It was good. I turned out fine.
But for the last few months, I've been subbing in the public schools. For the last two weeks, I've been in one school every day. It's the one down the road, kind of small for a public school, but still big
enough. Third grade. Fourth grade. Fifth grade. Gaggles of kids arrive each day and migrate from classroom - to the cafeteria - to the gym.

Me, I'm not the teacher. Not the real one. I'm subbing as an Instructional Assistant, an aid. I am in love with the teachers with whom I work. You would be too, if you could sit in their classrooms. You
would find yourself celebrating the public school teachers. Two, four, six, eight. Who do we appreciate? PST. PST. Yaaaay, PST.

It's not only them, I see at work. Other teachers at the copier, in the conference 
room, in the halls. They are inspiring.

They walk along side kids who don't care, parents who don't care, and a society who is too busy to notice.

They have big dreams for the adults these people will become... and at the same time remember they are just 8.  9.  10 years old.

They provide a place of safety for those who don't have security during after-school hours.   "I wish this class was my home," one told me. 

They have a love-hate relationship with snow days. Yes, they would love a hot chocolate day on the couch reading something delicious. But, the class is rolling with good momentum. There's so much tolearn. Don't stop. Don't stop.

They bring Kleenex when the beginning-of-school supplies are done, snacks for those who are hungry. They bring awards, and prizes, and everyday Valentines… and hugs for the kids who are desperately lonely.

Twelve hour days are more common than you'd think, and then there's the grading at home. Lunches are consumed while making copies or tutoring. As for bathroom breaks? Who needs them?

They wake up in the middle of the night thinking of ways to teach it differently, so the child in the thirdrow can get it.
They reach out to the parents, let's build a partnership, and in doing so, often are
teaching the mom how to be a mom, the dad how to be a dad.

They are teaching responsibility and work ethic, time-management and grace. They are teaching how to communicate and how to turn the day around. They are teaching cause and effect – the kind you read about and the kind you create. They are teaching steadfastness and in the end, love.

They need just one more cup of coffee, please, and watching the kids play at recess. They read interestingly fun books aloud, revealing their secrets of their minds. They enjoy the kids growing,  learning,  maturing... and take a breath when things get too serious.

They laugh more than you'd expect... smile more than you'd know.

It's not perfect, they'd say. Well, nothing is... But I am encouraged and I want you to see. 
It is because of them - watching them serve - that I can now say it, what I didn't know:
I love public school.

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