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Thursday, April 25, 2013

I guess you had to be there...

It's that time of year when you begin counting down the days left until summer. Along with counting the days comes the anxiety of somehow squeezing in every last bit of information that you so enthusiastically planned out at the beginning of the year. It is always a bittersweet time for me as a teacher. I find myself excited about the break and being able to spend time with my daughter, but I also become critical of all of the expectations I don't feel I have met during the year. It makes me take a look at how valuable every day is with my students. There never feels like enough time!

In saying that every year I've been teaching I feel there has been more pressure put on us to do more, create more, comply more, develop more, engage more...more....more. There is always an endless list of to-dos awaiting my return every morning. On my drive in every morning the media continues their spin that teachers just aren't fulfilling their responsibilities to the students and that the education system is broken. As always you question what is the real problem. A problem this big however is never just on one person's shoulders. One concern that I have though is the value of time. 

I see more and more students just not here. Not present for the material. How can we value the education if we don't value and honor the classroom time? On some level I know that our technological advancements have allowed for students to, if the teacher creates the opportunity,  have a relatively similar experience of the  classroom outside of the classroom via the flipped classroom. But how many students are taking that extra step? I know even with a week long calendar on the board and all of my resources for the week on edmodo, I still have students come in from missing a day asking "what did I miss" without feeling compelled to spend the extra time to get caught up before they return. 

Is it because our society has adopted the mentality of fast results with minimal effort? We think things should all come easily to us without having to put in the hours of work to get there? Education should just happen if your teacher is doing a good job? 

It's like expecting to get in shape by having a gym membership without putting in the hours of sweat and tears to produce the results. How can we expect to raise the standards we have for our students when we can't get them into the classroom five days a week? When there is always another field trip or retreat or training? I understand the value of a real world learning experience. But I don't see why we aren't using all of the technology that has literally been handed to us to make some of these trips happen in the classroom during class time.  

I'm not trying to just complain, if anything I am trying to work out a resolution in my own mind, I would really love to find a solution to the problem. Where does it start? Does it mean that maybe we have to reevaluate what constitutes a legitimate reason to have students miss class time? I think that is a start. Does the value of the school day have to first be recognized at home. I think so, I think we have to expect parents to see that week long Disney adventure in October as a bad idea. If we want to offer our students the best we have, we have to expect that they are here to receive it. On the other side we in the classroom have to give students a reason to expect more. If we find days that are a "waste" and "don't mean anything" then why should they want to be here? Whatever the solution it requires everyone to put forth additional effort, including myself. 

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