A couple of days ago I shared an article from an Ohio teacher, who was concerned about the direction of the educational system. It’s a hot topic. Test prep and testing takes up the majority of school hours and students and teachers are stressed.
For me, the most disturbing part of all this change is how it affects our connections with students and colleagues. I retired from teaching in 2011 but the change was already in motion. We spent hours writing and rewriting content standards and how we would use them in our classrooms. We were required to visibly post standards or goals we were working on each day in each classroom. Keep in mind, in any one class time, we could be (and should be) teaching multiple standards. That in itself was a time-consuming task and in my opinion, was time better spent in other preparations or in actual student/teacher interaction. Some teachers posted every standard that was relevant to their coursework (and that was MANY) and just left it at that. I tried to keep up daily, but it was overwhelming.
The fact remains that a good teacher needs to connect with his/her students. Every day. In a positive way. By adding all the requirements of test prep and testing and proving to someone that your students are learning and making progress, we take away from that valuable personal time.
Think back to your favorite teacher. I am guessing that teacher made time for you. My favorite teachers were those that I got to know as people-not just teachers. They talked to me after class, spoke to me in the hallway, asked me about what was happening in my life. They valued my as a person and I, in turn, valued them. I fear that if we continue on the path we are on now, teachers will not have TIME to make that connection. I already know teachers who have retired sooner than they had anticipated because the career was no longer satisfying to them, mainly because of the changes in evaluations and procedures.
It’s not just the teaching profession that feels this dehumanization. It’s everywhere. After a recent hospital stay, my husband and I had many conversations about nursing and how it had changed. It seemed that most of the hours in a working shift were spent recording information. The nurse enters your room, logs on to the computer, asks your name and date of birth, pushes a button for a blood pressure reading, and checks the IV tubing ,oxygen levels, and information on the monitors. Then, and only then, would she actually look at the patient! Gone are the days when the nurse had the freedom to enter the room and start a conversation with the patient, all the while visually do an evaluation of the patient’s condition. The technology is great, especially in the medical profession-think MRI’s and scans that can show everything that is going on inside your body. I am thankful for that. But the human connection is just as important to healing. Nurses feel the stress just as teachers do. Not enough time to connect with each patient.
We are losing ground because of social media as well. Text messages, email messages, twitter, and other sites are great ways to communicate on a daily basis. But they still lack that one on one connection that we all need.