Monday, December 9, 2013

the neverending story

What if you lived life on a hamster wheel? 

Think about a big project you've worked on in your life, something you sweated over for a long time.  Maybe it's a paper you wrote, the degree you earned, a relationship you developed, a painting completed, a car restored, a job attained, a home built.  What if instead of finishing and knowing how it turned out, you finished and then it disappeared?  You wrote the paper but it was never graded.  You finished your course work, but didn't get a degree.  You dated for years, but you never married.  You completed the painting but it was never hung.  The car was never started, no paycheck ever came, the house stood empty.  How long would you keep working if you never found out if your work mattered? 

This is how teaching works for a lot of us.  Students finish our classes and literally disappear.  Many teachers have no idea whether anything they ever said, did, or taught was useful or meaningful. 

I have been really lucky in that a lot of my students have come back into my life in recent years through the power of social media.  I have been teaching for 27 years and have kept in touch with fewer than ten students from my first five years.  But I have spoken to literally hundreds from the last ten through Facebook. This post isn't a ploy to get you to say nice things to me.  I'm good.  Thank you to every alum that has contacted me over the years.  You are awesome. 

What matters is that we are fast reaching a crisis point in education where new teachers don't last much more than a couple of years before they walk.  There are a lot of reasons for this, but most people will put up with a lot of nonsense if they know that what they are doing matters.  Let's be clear.  Students are the reason we teach. I challenge you to track down a teacher who was meaningful in your life and express your feelings.  You can't change everything that is wrong in a teacher's world, but you just might make today right. 

Thank you. 

You can read about teacher attrition here. 

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