Somehow, either in the budget crunch or the race to the top stuff, teachers became the MOST IMPORTANT THING at schools. As such, anyone who is NOT a classroom teacher started to be treated as expendable. After all, as long as the students have “a good classroom teacher” nothing else matters at the school. Uh huh. Seriously?
Now I’m sure that this statement boosts the egos of a good many teacher. After all, we spend most of our time with students. We’ve all seen the movies where teachers sacrifice themselves for their students (Idiots or martyrs; can’t figure out which.). It’s affirming to think you’re the only one who holds the key to knowledge — the ONE person who makes ALL the difference. I also think it’s arrogant, counterproductive, and harmful.
For the past decade my mantra has been “People, not programs.” In fact, we need A LOT OF PEOPLE. It’s unrealistic to expect one person to fulfill the needs of 30 very diverse individuals. Hell, spouses in a one-on-one situations often can’t everything to their better half. You expect one lone teacher to? Schools need good administrators, deans of students and discipline, office staff (Seriously, they RUN the school and are the first “school people” parents usually see. They are invaluable), instructional associates, and special teachers (not just special education, but resource, art, music, computer, library, counselors),etc.
Not only do these additional school staff help students, they help teachers and parents. They can take over classes, mentor, grab a needy child for a conversation, contact and educate parents, and teach classes. They can offer interventions when the classroom teacher knows he or she is not making a dent with a student. They are sounding boards. They give ideas. They help with planning curriculum or putting together a scope and sequence of a new topic. Administrators interact with parents and can ease a hiccup between teacher and parent. There are so many valuable people at a school that it HURTS everyone to assume that only the teachers are important.
Kids need to make connections. They need to know they are valued. Whether anyone wants to admit it or not, some don’t bond with their classroom or homeroom teacher. Should those students really be denied the chance to bond with another caring adult at school simply because we think it’s our God-given right NOT to pay taxes? Those other teachers are not just collecting paychecks. They work just as hard as classroom teachers, putting in more than their x-many minutes of contact time as well.
Stop the platitudes about how teachers are a valuable resource, and the only thing teachers need to be happier in their jobs is more money. Pay alone is not enough. I deserve the support of other caring adults on campus to allow me to be my best in the classroom. My students deserve it. Anything less is handing our students a sub-par educational experience. All in the name of the almighty dollar.
Can I get an “Amen”?