I was not “called” into teaching; instead, I fell into it after finally asking, “What do English majors do?” The usual answer was teach, so I did, and I loved it and the 8th graders who, year after year, graced my classroom. I left it behind because I got old, but, to this day, keep my foot in the classroom door, so to speak, as a student teacher mentor/supervisor.
As such, I keep seeing the consequences of changing policies on teachers and kids, alike, making my sunny view of classroom life, well, so old school and one reason articles with titles like these keep popping up:
- “Why One Teacher Hates the Phrase, ‘Teaching Is a Calling,’” by Madelaine Will
- “Teaching Is a JOB, Not a Calling—Let’s Stop Pretending It’s the Latter,” by GalacticLabyrinth88.
Meanwhile, my print copy of Education Week arrived this week and, in it, George DaVita’s “How Teaching Has Changed Since My Parents’ Day.” It leads off with, “I followed my parents into the classroom. It’s a different profession now.”
His father was “a seasoned high school teacher, while his mother served as “a dedicated curriculum director at a specialized private school for children with special needs…” And he tells us, I wanted to be them.”
** “Now an experienced educator myself, I have witnessed an unnerving transformation of the profession. Once brimming with passion, creativity, and innovation, the colorful canvas of teaching has been replaced by a sterile landscape of rigidity and disillusionment.”
** “My parents’ work was a lesson in relationship building, human connection, and pedagogical expertise. Their interactions with students were a delicate balance between fostering curiosity and maintaining discipline.”
** “My parents’ approach to teaching was rooted in their autonomy. They taught me that education is not about shaping students but enabling students to shape themselves.”
** “Unfortunately, the modern education landscape has suffered a seismic shift. Rigid top-down guidelines and a relentless focus on standardized tests, data points, and legislative demands have created an oppressive atmosphere for teachers. While well-intentioned, the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 put immense pressure on teachers to improve test scores, leading to a narrowing of the curriculum and a focus on ‘teaching to the test.’ Even after Every Student Succeeds Act returned responsibility of setting academic standards to individual states in 2015, the law kept the annual testing requirements of NCLB.”
** “Many educators feel unable to apply the methods that initially drew them to this profession. The impacts of this sterilization of teaching are profound… This metrics-driven shift in teaching has caused some of the best educators I know to abandon the profession they once loved.”
** “The solution lies in trusting teachers to meet their students where they are, without the pressure to reduce students to numbers. This involves restoring creativity and personal connection in the classroom and, in turn, making students more valued.”
** “My plea is this: Teachers, we must own the work of advocating for our students and ourselves, raising awareness about the realities we face in the classroom. Our insight as educators is invaluable and should be the cornerstone of any discussion about the future of education.”
** “Administrators must own the work of supporting their teachers, understanding their challenges, and opposing policies that hinder effective teaching…”
** “Educational policymakers need to engage in open dialogue with teachers, administrators, and students to understand the true impacts of their policies and adjust accordingly.”
“Teaching is not about control; it’s about connection,” said his mom, and so Mr. DeVita ends with: “In our pursuit of accountability, we have lost sight of that crucial connection, reducing teaching to a sterile, mechanical process. To reignite the joy, creativity, and vibrancy in education, we must restore that human connection. It is only then that we, as educators, can find our purpose and passion, just as my parents did all those years ago.”
On a personal note, I would add the impact of technology on teaching and student learning, not just the negatives of social media and mobiles, but now Artificial Intelligence (AI), the latest new bauble finding its way into our classrooms.
Turnitin’s artificial intelligence tool recently reviewed 65 million student papers and found that, in more than 2 million cases, at least 80% had been written by AI, as in Chat GPT, not kids.
And down the rabbit hole we go…
~ With my thanks and good summer wishes, Carol