SEE! That white boy is pointing at AFRICA!
I want you to think back on your high school experiences. Try to remember the good teachers. The teachers who didn’t just teach you but inspired you or gave you perspective or honed your skills. Recall which lessons you remember well and which ones you don’t (I, for example, completely forgot that I had read Macbeth in the 10th grade and still know nothing about the play but I remember much of Julius Cesar from that same year [I should also point out that most teachers don’t have time anymore for 2 Shakespeare plays]).
I want to challenge you. Your favorite teacher, the ones you remember most fondly and who had a big impact on your life, are NOT good teachers anymore.
I firmly believe you would not recognize the courses or activities of your favorite teachers if you could retake them today. But does this make them bad teachers? The alternative is for them to lose their jobs by not meeting the Standards. The alternative is for them to spend their own money from a shrinking paycheck. They have to put in more hours at school for remediation and for giving students extra time on assignments that previous years students’ would have easily completed.
I think that for two reasons: either they had to substantially alter their curriculum or they left the profession. Schools are not the same as they were when you were in high school. If you graduated before 2004, you didn’t have to take NCLB tests like the Georgia High School Graduation Test. If you graduated before 2004, your teachers didn’t have to alter their curriculum to meet the Georgia Professional Standards. If you graduated before 2006, your school didn’t have much data to see if it passed AYP. In other words, the school systems didn’t demand two dozen (or more) days of test preparation from their schools. If you graduated before 2008, your teachers were still getting a 1% annual raise. Since then, the school systems have stopped the “step” increases and decreased teacher pay through furloughs all while hours worked have gone up. Continue reading How School Reform Changed the Good Teachers