The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Our Readers Speak

March 18, 2013

Our Readers Speak — Monday, March 18, 2013


Important to let our teachers do their jobs

Once upon a time, there was a teacher. She worked hard to attain her degree in education and with honors, headed excitedly to the classroom. She was diligent about lesson plans, preparing lessons to fulfill the mandated CSOs (learning standards) and planning lessons that would be helpful for student learning.

The school she was assigned to had three categories of students: the Straws, the Sticks and the Stones. Over time, the teacher attempted with every scheme imaginable and researched, to instruct the Straws. They blew the lessons off. Often, they were behavior problems, which even her wide range of psychological understanding of growth and development could not begin to overcome and redirect. Assignments were undone, and the Straws outright refused to do them, noting: “You can’t make  me.” And the students were correct; they could not be made to do a thing in spite of this instructor’s best efforts. Because the Straws did not do their assignments, it was difficult for the teacher to proceed with the lesson as the necessary background was not there. They continued to disrupt the learning of others in the classroom, could be identified as bullies, and resulted in taking away from educational time.

The Sticks were somewhat better, but still did not have a stable background. Like the Straws, they were often behavioral problems and did not complete assignments or pay attention in the classroom. They, too, showed little respect or interest in education. The parents of this group might show up for meetings or PTO, but the effort to be involved and committed to education was not evident. The Sticks usually made passing grades and got by, keeping their behavioral issues right at the limit.

The Stones were the building blocks of the school. These families could be seen at meetings, participating in PTO, and doing other school-related activities giving truth to their value of education, schools, and teachers. The Stones show respect to themselves and others. They showed leadership and formed the Student Councils, Math Field Day Teams, Writers’ contest winners, and participated in various other beneficial activities. Grades were commendable and honors were received by the Stones. These had good study habits, completed assignments, and often went beyond the measure, helping others to understand the work.

Still, with this diversity, the teacher struggled to present the best education to all, laboring in the evenings researching information to present and ways to engage them all. It was tiring, frustrating work, but the teacher had dedication and kept at it.

Before long, noticing the failures of the Straws and Sticks, the public began to criticize the teacher for not being accomplished enough. It was much easier to do this rather than to embrace the notion that somehow the Straws, the Sticks, and their families had to do their part to make education a joint effort and enable their children and the child’s classmates to engage in the education provided.

MORAL: Parents and students have to self-examine to determine which family they are a part of, which they could be a part of with additional effort, and take ownership of the combined responsibilities of home and school in order to enable the schools to do their jobs, and allow the teachers to teach.

Inspired by the Reader Speak letter from Pamela Legg Faulkner of Beckley. Thank you for putting things straight.

Michelle (Mikki) Dixon

White Sulphur Springs

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