April 2018 Column

Teacher appreciation week is May 7-11.  Tuesday, May 8th is National Teacher Day.  It’s very fitting that we recognize teachers during the spring because this is the time when they need a positive note to remind them of the wonderful job they do.  I was recently asked why teachers look so stressed. Here’s one reason:  HHS will test students 25 of the remaining 35 days in the school year.  Although every student will not be tested during that time, regulations call for teachers to be test observers and they must shuffle scheduling to do so, drastically impact the class time.  Tests given in April and May include PARCC (which has a direct impact on student graduation as well as teacher evaluations), End Of Course Exams, Advanced Placement, Semester Exams and make-up exams if a student is absent.  Then there are spring activities that include banquets, prom and district and state athletic events.

Anyone who has spent time with a teenager knows they have a tendency to get antsy in spring.  Discipline referrals increase. Teachers take student grades personally. Knowing that a student may not pass a course or even graduate causes major stress for a teacher who has spent 180 days trying to get the individual to turn in work, come to class, participate and stay awake.  

My face becomes a little distorted when people make the comment teaching is great because they only work 182 days a year.  The number of “paid“ days is correct, but teachers get no down time.  It’s 100 percent game on!  Many of our teachers have to eat while they supervise kids.  I’ve seen teachers walking through the cafeteria with a tray trying to eat while they monitor the students.  You can always tell when educators eat at a restaurant because they are first to finish.  Most jobs allow some down time during the day, but a kindergarten teacher has no down time.  They must supervise and teach children every moment of every day.

The pay increase for educators will not begin to make up for the many years when teachers got no raise, but saw an increase in their insurance, therefore took home less money.  Mr. Hawkins is on the recruitment trail looking for qualified teachers.  He’s traveled to Michigan, Oklahoma, Texas and multiple New Mexico campuses to entice the dwindling numbers of teaching candidates graduating from our colleges.  We need to take this time and cherish the current staff we have.  We also need to encourage our top students to enter the teaching profession to ensure a quality public education for all children. 

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