for his New York Times column for Saturday, now available. It is titled Teaching Me About Teaching, written, well, let me offer his introduction:
Next week is National Teacher Appreciation Week, and, as far as I’m concerned, they don’t get nearly enough.He knows from up close what teaching is like - his mother taught for 34 years, retired and then volunteered, and at age 67 got elected to her local school board.
Education is in her blood.That by itself tells you the treat - at least from the standpoint of this teacher - you are in for by reading this terrific column.
Through her I saw up close that teaching is one of those jobs you do with the whole of you — trying to break through to a young mind can break your heart. My mother cared about her students like they were her own children. I guess that’s why so many of them dispensed with “Mrs. Blow” and just called her Mama.
Another paragraph about his mother:
She showed me what a great teacher looked like: proud, exhausted, underpaid and overjoyed. For great teachers, the job is less a career than a calling. You don’t become a teacher to make a world of money. You become a teacher to make a world of difference. But hard work deserves a fair wage.I will disagree slightly with Blow - I do not think the entire system is broken, although what is happening now is breaking what was not already in trouble.
But he is correct on the disrespect directed by some at my profession, or as he puts it
A big part of the problem is that teachers have been so maligned in the national debate that it’s hard to attract our best and brightest to see it as a viable and rewarding career choice, even if they have a high aptitude and natural gift for it.A bit more below the fold.
Blow goes through the economic issues. As he notes, the high performing nations whose results are used to criticize our public schools support teaching much more - among the things that Blow notes is that we are cutting teaching jobs, putting economic pressure on teacher compensation, and more.
I have been lucky in my 17 years in the classroom. I have been in three schools, and in each case our parent community values and supports teacher. On May 8 our PTSA will give us a very nice lunch. We regularly get thank you notes and emails and personal messages (sometimes face to face) from parents, and of greater importance, from our students, current and former - one who graduated two years ago whom I taught as a sophomore just reached out to me because she heard I was retiring, and wanted to touch base and to thank me (thanks, Steph!).
I note that Starbucks has a special Starbucks card for teacher appreciation, and they have actively been promoting the idea of supporting teachers. I know that Starbucks cards are often greatly appreciated - I am one of almost a dozen teachers that I know of who use our local Starbucks as a place to grade papers, and catch up on emails with parents!
Charles M. Blow has high visibility.
I am grateful that leading in to Teacher Appreciation Week he has taken the time for this post, which I urge you to read and pass on.
So let me let him have the final words, his final words, after i wish you
If we want better educational outcomes, we need to attract better teachers — and work to retain them. A good place to start is with respect and paychecks. And a little social media appreciation once a year wouldn’t hurt either.
So, on Tuesday, I plan to send this message on Twitter: To the teacher who taught me what it means to be a teacher: My mama. Everybody’s mama.
What will you tweet?