I suppose that we all let ourselves go into the unrealistic realm of life once in a while. For a teacher, that’s really easy to do, because if we know things should could be better. I at least know this much: If I got to be King-of-Education, things would be so different than they are now.
That’s my goal in life, by the way…to get elected King-of-Education.
Never mind that I’m a woman, so I should probably shoot for being Queen or that Kings don’t get elected anyway: they are supposedly chosen by God himself, the Divine Right of Kings.
I think that I would start small and work my way up. It’s the little things that make a big difference to teachers…like littler smaller classes.
I’ve lamented about delineated the problems that come with too-large-classes before, so I am going to get really nuanced and focused right now.
Smaller classes would mean fewer essays/quizzes/tests/assignments/introduction paragraphs/vocabulary tests/story annotations to grade, which would mean more time, which would mean I might get to go to more extra-curricular activities than I currently do.
People who think that teachers work six hours a day are stupid ill informed. We work until everything is graded, which means—for me—that I got up at an ungodly hour 4:08AM twice this week: the other three days, I slept in until 5. It means that I spent almost all day today (it’s now Saturday at 6:42PM) working on school-related tasks.
I went to a cross-country meet on Wednesday, only my third extra-curricular event of the year. As I cheered until I made my voice hoarse and as I got to see students in an entirely different environment, all I could think about was the dozens of essays that were sitting in my book-bag in my car, waiting for me to go home and grade.
Going to that cross-country meet, though, was probably one of the more valuable things that I have done for my students this year. No, it didn’t teach them to write with insight and sophistication. It didn’t get them ready for the next useless standardized test. It didn’t get them ready for college.
But it gave me a chance to discern a different side of them. I saw heartbreaking dedication and strength of will. I saw a girl run so hard that she was proud she didn’t puke. I saw a boy who was so happy to see me that it almost broke my heart. And a sweaty girl threw her arms around me, before I could stop her, since we’re not supposed to hug students (which is an issue for a different blog).
In two hours, it bonded us more than the last nine weeks of class has.
Why does that matter, you ask? Because, think about it, most people will stretch themselves beyond what they think is even possible in order to reach the expectations of the people they know care about them.
All things being equal (the teachers’ skill, knowledge, years of teaching experience), the teacher whose students know that he cares them will have more successful students. Period. End of story. Done deal.
So as King-of-Education, my first law would be to give each teacher only as many students to whom he could effectively teach, which includes showing heart-felt care, compassion, and empathy and humor.
How many students is that, you ask? It depends on the teacher. For me, it’s probably about 125 to 140 students per day. The fewer, the better, though. For other teachers, that number may be a bit higher or lower. The point is this: I’m not talking about each teacher only having 25 students per day.
We’d need God or Santa Clause for that, not just a King.