I Might be Famous! Reponses to the Previous Post

I NEVER believed that I would receive so many comments regarding one post. I decided to share the comments I have received. But instead of ‘accepting’ each one I decided to compile them into 1 post. There are several reasons for doing this. The first is that if you follow this post, I am trying to protect you from receiving 50+ emails for each comment I accepted. The second is that I wanted to remove names to protect everyone just in case one didn’t want his/her name shared. The third is so I can respond to them all as a whole.

I want to thank all of you for taking the time to read my post. As you can tell I was discouraged for the teachers I know and I hoped that I could encourage them and (obviously) other teachers that I don’t know by saying that I understand and I support and praise you for all that you do.

I believe that all teachers go in to the profession because they love children and feel called to help educate our future. In addition I believe that that is also the reason why teachers REMAIN in the profession.

The title of my last blog was meant to catch people’s attention. I was NOT saying that everyone in education takes an antidepressant, nor was I saying that if the educational system was perfect NO one in education would be taking antidepressants. That is a personal decision that is between an individual and his/her doctor.

My final comment is that I AM in SUPPORT of the new Common Core Standards as far as the mathematics is concerned. (I say this only because I have not read any of the other content standards, nor would I be comfortable making a judgment about a content in which I am not as familiar with teaching.) There has been a lot of misrepresentation from those opposed to the CCSS by saying that Common Core is the cause for so much testing taking place in schools. This is simply NOT true. Common Core in Mathematics calls for students to develop a deeper understanding of mathematics; to make connections between different ideas in mathematics as well as between the classroom and the real world;  to develop a confidence in thinking mathematically; to make conjectures; to reason abstractly; and to defend and make mathematical arguments. If you are interested in knowing more about the Common Core Standards please click on the following link http://www.corestandards.org/.

And my final response is that I purchased my t-shirt from http://www.signals.com/cgi-bin/hazel.cgi?action=DETAIL&ITEM=CL6271 but it is my guess that it can be found elsewhere. I typed the slogan into a search engine and there are buttons, bumper stickers, etc with the same slogan.

If you have the time, skim over the following comments provided by readers (current teachers, retired teachers, para professionals, pre-service teachers, parents, grandparents, and non-teachers). I have copied word for word (correctly or incorrectly spelled) every post except for one that contained a curse word.

  1. Love this Robyn! I am glad to hear you say that you are actually okay with most of the common core standards because that is one of the reasons I have been concerned about having Noah in public school. I agree the testing stuff seems ridiculous. I know I have been out of the classroom for 15 years, but now I wonder, would I even WANT to go back? Or could I even handle it if I did???? I don’t know what the answer is. I wish I did. I am just so abundantly thankful that I have been able to keep my kiddos at home and school them here, climbing trees and all!!! And I am thankful for those teachers who are in the trenches and are now teaching my son. I pray for them each day because my son and others NEED great teachers desperately. Thank you for shedding some light on this for me. I will be thanking his teachers TODAY for a job well done…
  2. Thank you!
  3. You are so right! How can we change it! I’ve taken my child out of school 3 times because of this crazy and how it is affecting her. I honor every teacher that puts up with this. This crazy needs to change. I’ve been saying this for 5 years every since my daughter started school. How do we take back OUR educational system?
  4. Step one…get all of the politicians and school district superintendents OUT of the restaurants where they hold their “so-called” educational conferences/meetings/professional development seminars, and make them SIT IN on classes, ALL DAY, EVERYDAY. Let them FEEL the stress along with the teachers and students, instead of CREATING IT over lunch and coffee…in between all the conversation about their golfing events. Trust me on this. While I’m not a teacher, I have been a waitress who has waited on these Educational and political big wigs. I’ve overheard their conversations. They are, in my own opinion, nothing more than extremely over paid, professional luncheon organizers.
  5. Another thing you can do – contact your legislators and school board members!!!!! Speak up!!!
  6. Thank you! I needed that today!
  7. SUCH A SAD TIME WE LIVE IN….. THIS BLOG IS SO TRUE. WHEN THIS COUNTRY STARTS LETTING THE CHILDREN BE CHILDREN ,THEN THE TEACHERS CAN ONCE AGAIN BECOME TEACHERS. I WILL BE PRAYING FOR EACH ONE OF YOU. AND THANK YOU !
  8. Where can I get that cool & totally true tee?
  9. Love it! Children are being “shoved into their heads” far too soon!! Great book: “Magical Child,” by Joseph Chilton Pearce. I read it decades ago and concur with 95% of it based on my own life experience, other reading I’ve done, and observation over the years. My grandmother taught 4th grade for 25 years. She was the best teacher in the world! It was a lot of fun and everyone learned what they needed to learn in the midst of enjoying it all. What can be better than that?
  10. As a 3rd grade teacher, I am so thankful to you. We are truly over stressed and underpaid, but we love our students dearly. Those who teach, love to teach, no matter how stressful things get. Unfortunately, it is part of the way our educational system works. I just wish we could let our kids be kids, and not be stressed out at such a young age. It makes me so sad to see my 3rd graders worried about these standardized test. I agree, something needs to be done.
  11. Thank you Robyn. This was perfect.
  12. Perfect!!!
  13. As a former paraprofessional, substitute teacher, and now a teacher, I say bravo to your blog!!! Teachers are severely under appreciated, and under paid. Why does a pro athlete make millions of dollars more than the person who teaches you how to read, write, add, and subtract? What message does this send to our nation’s youth? Not a positive one if you ask me.
  14. Will pray more for our teachers. Sounds more stressful than ever. Makes me glad to be retired before this new curriculum, even though I loved teaching very much.
  15. we can do more than prayer. We can hold protests and become political. If you’re a parent, please ask your teacher what they need help with… Parents are more powerful than teachers. A parent that goes to the district office can get a few things done for that teacher.The parent is more likely to get the air filter changed in the room then the teacher! The parents can protest the test and not send their child to school that day.
  16. wonderfully written and VERY truthful!!
  17. You hit the nail on the head!! Awesome job!!
  18. And we wonder why fewer college students are heading for careers in education. Or why so many first-year teachers don’t continue into second year. My terrific husband retired recently from 30+ years as an elementary music teacher. He had some fantastic years, and he still keeps in touch with some phenomenal colleagues. But everything you said above, about what teaching is like – and the toll it is taking on teachers and on children – is true true true.
  19. Thank you… and…political correctness.
  20. I’m glad that someone understands. While the rewards are priceless, the journey is exhausting.
  21. So very well written and so very right. Thanks!
  22. When I retired I had an ulcer, was on Xanax, had high blood pressure and panic attacks. After retirement I was diagnosed with PTSD. I had planned to teach 2 more years but my health could not take it. I felt worthless, incompetent and depressed. Now, a year and a half later I feel much better, I sleep at night, I am no longer on Xanax and haven’t had a panic attack in well over a year. Not only that but I remember when I loved teaching, when I felt like I was making a difference and changing lives. I miss that. However, teaching as it is today was joyless for me and I would not return for anything.
  23. Well said, you really captured the environment in which many teachers work in across our nation. Thank you for posting.
  24. Many of us speak up and no one listens, which leads us to believe “they” don’t care. Sad isn’t it. So much for the legislation of No Child Left Behind. That’s exactly what “they” are doing!
  25. I am a 13 year vet teacher. Every word you have written is true. I stay in teaching because I love it, but over the past few years I have gotten the distinct impression that it doesn’t love me back.. If I hadn’t gotten a job in a charter school this year, where I am given more autonomy as a teacher, I might have thrown in the towel. We still have to adhere to standardized testing, but those tests are not considered the BE ALL of teaching and learning. If this nation is going to retain the teachers it has and attract a new generation of teachers, things are going to have to change..
  26. Awesome !!
  27. so well stated and I agree 100%~I stopped teaching 8 years ago basically as a result of pretty much everything you have written. I miss it, but not enough to feel that emotional pain.
  28. Thank you. I am 27 years in and all I can think of is that I want out. I have been on anti-depressants for over ten years. I can’t do this anymore. I am glad someone understands.
  29. Most people have to deal with these type of expectations at their job. The difference is most people didn’t grow up next to someone performing their occupation, allowing them to develop a child’s view of what that job entails.
  30. Don’t forget to add in severe behavior problems, behavior plans for individual students, referrals, counseling, before and after school duties, lunch with students, and PLCs.
  31. Amen!!! About the only things left out were working all those sporting events (gate, concession stand, crowd control), and our ESL students. I have ESL students who work from 10 pm to 6 am, come to school, go home and nap, and start again. Their learning is limited to classroom.
  32. This is simply the truth!
  33. Wow! is all I can say…………..
  34. Thanks for writing this. It’s nice to know that someone is actually paying attention. When you’re in the situation and can’t say anything for fear of losing your job, it’s nice to have someone else raise their voice and question what in the world is happening…
  35. I think you’re exactly head-on! I’ve been teaching for 12 years and I love it but I spent most of yesterday and will spend a good bit of today working on reports that I couldn’t finish during my “work hours” because I was trying to TEACH!!
  36. I feel your pain. I taught first grade for thirty four years, retiring 4 years ago. Over the years I taught I went from not having a complete set of books to teach from my first few years, to watching the administration jump on every new program possible if it was recomended by some higher paper pushing “expert”. There is WASTE in education.. We need fewer experts, lots of people with good common sense, more input from the classroom teachers who are there fighting the battles, and if you find something that works don’t throw it out to jump on some glossy program that an “expert” will say solves all your problems. That program does not usually exist. If you have given your best don’t worry about the rest. Education is just a reflection of our society today. Everyone is stressed. When they have a problem the first thing to do is blame someone else. Thus all the pressure on teachers to produce a perfect product at the end of 12 years. Forget all the others who touch the student’s life daily and screw up. Through out my career I felt so sorry for the little kids who were there trying to do the best with so little support from the outside world. Sometimes you as a teacher are the only security that a child may feel Please hang in there and remember when you have done your best then that is all someone can expect of you.
  37. This article is great. Where can I get a t-shirt?
  38. Excellent article!!! I retired from teaching 3 years ago, just in time to avoid the CC mess. My heart breaks for my fellow teachers – and their students – who are subjected to this stress and insanity which is loaded onto them not by the education system (and those who really know about how kids learn), but by politicians who want to make themselves look useful. The only way to get out of this mess is to vote OUT all politicians who supported CC and replace them with ones who truly understand what learning is all about. Require all candidates to spend a week in a classroom….that’ll open some eyes! Bless you for the job you’re doing. Keep the faith.
  39. I absolutely love everything you said! !! It is all soooo true!!! Maybe some people will read it and do something!! Thank you!!:
  40. Before saying what I am about to say, I am not in any way undermine a teacher’s duties, as I myself will graduate with a bachelors degree in Elementary Education in the next year. I have several friends who are already teachers and one of my three jobs is substitute teaching. Now, the further I read this post the more I realized that this attitude is actually contributing to the problem in our schools today. I completely understand the need and right to be upset about the new standards and, like I said before, am not trying to regard your point as invalid, but where is the passion to teach? These children have nothing without a good education: no hope for the future, no chance to change the course of life their family has chosen for decades… Nothing. And to complain about professional development?! Your post is full of propaganda and by simply reading the title one can see that.
  41. I could not have said it any better. Children are no longer allowed to be kids. They are expected to start some kind of school the minute they come out of the womb. At one time I wanted to be a teacher, but now I don’t think I could handle all these rules. It truly is sad.
  42. Thanks for saying this. retired because I couldn’t do it anymore .
  43. AWESOME!!!!! I WANT TO CRY. TEACHER OF 30 YEARS!!!!
  44. Until the public understands and believes what you posted, nothing will change. Their view is all too often, thanks to the media, that we sit with our feet up and hand out worksheets. We get all this “paid” time off and then complain about how unfair our job has become. We would all benefit from walking in each other’s shoes before we criticize. I have been a political conservative all of my life and I am now appalled at what the Republicans are doing to education. Here in Tennessee, we have a Commissioner of Education who taught one year in the Teach for America program and is making the decisions to test these kids to death. I am judged by tests that are invalid and irrelevant. I am judged by a one size fits all rubric that was designed by people who haven’t a clue what it is like to teach children with special needs and language barriers. And on top of that, my final score is only based on 50% of what I actually do. The other half of my evaluation is based on how students I never taught perform on tests. Are relevant assessments needed? Of course. Do we want the best of the best to become teachers? You bet. Powers that be, please talk and listen to us. We entered this profession to help make our nation strong through educating our children. Trust our intention and ability. General Patton once said; “Tell people what job to do, not how do it, and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.” It’s just my opinion, but I don’t believe the primary failure in education has been because of a lack of effort and dedication of educators, but of a rapidly changing culture in this country that values entertainment more than preparation for the future. Let’s ALL pull together for the betterment of our children.
  45. Wow. Thank you. You said it all PERFECTLY!
  46. Amen
  47. Thank you from teachers everywhere.
  48. I have sisters (2), both of whom are educators. Both of whom are very passionate about teaching. Both whom are in specialty areas (Math & ESOL). Many hours and a lot of their personal money is spent to motivate their students. However, based on many of the things you state in your blog, both have decided to retire early. I am a grandmother of two beautiful girls — a 2nd grader and junior in college. Since the time they each entered school, I have always been involved in their education. Reading is fundamental is not just a catch phrase, it is the very foundation of the success of any child in school — especially testing. My girls had learned to read by the age of 3 and both are still very avid readers. What too many parents don’t do is “partner” with their children’s teachers, offer to volunteer to help them during testing, help them with setting up a bulletin board change. Parents take no accountability for their children’s learning, nor their failure. My opinion of course is biased because of my sisters and the long line of educators in my family, but how well your student does is a partnership — the parents need to pickup on a daily basis where the teacher ended during the school day. If a child fails a standardized test, the parent is equally responsible. I applaud you for the courage to write and the candor of your blog.
  49. AMEN!!!!

Why do so many Teachers take Antidepressants?

Teachers are tired and stressed! And it stresses me that there’s nothing I can do about it. Isn’t there something that can be done?

For the most part I really like and support the Common Core mathematics standards. But how can teachers provide the new rigorous curriculum in ways that are most effective when they are having to stop every 4 or 5 days to give some kind of test? No, I’m not talking about a ‘test’ on the unit they may be teaching. I’m talking about the benchmark tests, the Writing test, the mock Writing test, the CRCTs, the mock CRCTs, pre tests, post tests, screening and monitoring tests, STAR tests, etc. These are just the ones I know of and it makes me tense just typing them. I’ve been told by numerous teachers that they give some form of mandatory testing about 40 days in the school year! If students go to school 180 days then they spend almost 25% of their ‘learning’ time testing.

CL6271

Why are students being tested so much? Because someone somewhere decided that all students should score at a certain level on a certain test on a certain day, regardless of anything else that may influence their results. Are you kidding me? What if her parents got into a fight that morning? What if he had to stay up late to take care of his little sister because his mom was working until midnight? What if she freezes up on tests simply because that’s all she’s heard about since the first day of school? What if his mother is fighting breast cancer? What if she has attention problems and needs to regroup every 20 minutes but must remain still and quiet for an hour straight? What if he was born at 24 weeks instead of 39 weeks? What if she was already 3 years behind before she got to this class? What if he didn’t have anything to eat for dinner last night and got to school too late to eat breakfast? My niece almost chewed a hole in her mouth the week of testing her last year in public school – all because of one test that someone thought should be the be all and end all of education!!

Some of you may be cheering while others of you may be thinking “Doesn’t she believe that all children can learn mathematics?” Duh, of course I believe ALL students can learn mathematics – but not the exact same amount at the exact same time of every other child their age. How many adults can do that? What made someone who ‘can’t teach’ powerful enough to ‘pass laws about teaching’? We’re creating students who hate school as early as 6 years old simply because they feel and suffer the stress that the teachers feel and suffer. Five year-olds are not even taking naps in kindergarten any more. Did you all know that? When I was five kindergarten was an option. Now if a child doesn’t go to preschool for at least one year, they are considered behind when they enter kindergarten. How can a child – a kid – be behind academically at five years old?! Something is wrong with our priorities in this country. Why not let children climb trees, ride their bicycles, play imaginary things like baby dolls or cops and robbers, play on swing sets in the backyard, play football with the neighbor kids? Instead they’re spending 8 hours a day from the time they are 3 in most cases in some form of organized learning.

So, how does all of this affect teachers? Teachers are being judged on their performance based on how their students do on the one test on that one special day. I know what the ‘guidelines’ say. Student performance is only a portion of a teacher’s performance report. Yet teachers are being treated as if these scores are the only thing that matters. They are given pacing guides (often written by someone who doesn’t understand the content) that they must stay within at least a day or two. This truly doesn’t make any sense. Many schools group students based on their levels of performance – low (special ed, EIP, etc); high (gifted, over achievers); and regular (the leftovers) – regardless of what the research says about grouping. But that’s the topic of another blog later. How can a teacher with all of the ‘lower performing’ students in one classroom possibly stay at the same place on the same pacing guide with the other classrooms? They can’t. But they’re still expected to.

And all of that is just the pressure of testing. Teachers are also expected to CYA. If you don’t know what the acronym stands for ask a teacher. If their students don’t score well on a benchmark test (again often written by someone who doesn’t understand the content), they have to complete documents justifying why and a plan for what the teacher is going to do to get that student(s) caught up. In most instances they have to do their own scoring of all of these tests I mentioned earlier. They have to fill out paperwork for all of their students with an IEP or a 504 plan (my number may be wrong). They have to make accommodations for all students who legally require one.

Teachers have to be at work 8.5 hours a day 5 days a week. I know what non teachers think – “yeah but they only have to do it for 190 days.” Bull! Actually for the last couple of years they had to do the same amount of everything in even less days because they were furloughed. Furlough to a teacher just means “work without pay”. Rarely are teachers ONLY at school for 8.5 hours a day. Many come to school an hour early because that’s the only time they can get things accomplished. Even more stay late – for tutoring (without extra pay), for IEP meetings, for RTI meetings, for faculty meetings, for parent teacher conferences. And then on some of these days they are expected to come back to school at 6 for a PTO meeting, or open house, or academic night, or math bowl, or fall festival, or some club or sport that they have been bullied into leading. Then what used to be called “work days” when I was a student are now called “professional development” days. This means that teachers are supposed to be in some kind of class in which they are learning ways become a better teacher – when all they really want is time to change a bulletin board or type up those standards they are required to post, or clean the student desks because many schools don’t even have someone who keeps students’ desks or the board clean. AND most of them work during those 11 weeks of summer ‘vacation’, fall ‘vacation’, Christmas ‘vacation’, Spring ‘vacation’ getting their rooms ready for fall, grading papers, writing lessons, etc.

Now because of the wonderful world of technology they get emails all day long from their administrators, system leaders, grade level chairs, subject lead teachers, content coaches, or parents. Probably only 5% of those emails are positive and thanking the teachers for what they are doing or have done. Most of them include reminders of something that they must do, or complete, or turn in, or go to. Parents complain about what the teacher is not doing for their child, or because they got a note home that was worded in a way that they found offensive.

In order for any teacher to successfully do ALL that is expected of them they would no more than 12 children in their classroom. Yet, due to financial constraints their classroom sizes are becoming unbelievably large.

Are you tired and stressed yet? I am. I can guarantee you that my blood pressure is higher now than when I first started this blog. Have you noticed that nowhere have I mentioned that these teachers are parents of their own, have aging parents they are taking care of, do volunteer work, go to graduate school, have health problems (mostly caused by stress), are single parents who are working a second job because they aren’t getting enough child support and make too much to get government assistance, are active church members, or Lord forbid – have a hobby?

I guess this all explains why I have seen 6 teachers cry in the past week. Most teachers have not even been able to finish reading this post because they simply don’t have enough time. So that means that those of you who had the time to stick with it needs to figure out what we can do as a nation to change things.

Yet, as an individual there is something you can do. Love and appreciate teachers. Tell them thank you. Show them kindness. Send them cards. Consider what their day may have been like before you criticize something that they have written or said. Pray for them.

(Disclaimer: I realize that everything I have written will not be considered politically correct by some. Sorry.)