Last week I referred to the opinions of several educators in current service. They expressed such care and concern for their students – today I offer edited excerpts of their inspiring responses.
RYAN SCHLATER: As assistant principal, I think consistency is a key factor. After 3 pandemic years of inconsistent education, hopefully normalcy returns so students can grow in academics and social-emotional learning.
AMBERLY BARR: As a special-ed preschool teacher, I wish there were fewer assessments! Teachers need more time to connect with their students, students need more time for learning, playing, and growing socially and emotionally.
BECCA STAUDTER-HOLBROOK: I want my students to know they have options and talents that do not show up easily in academics. My relationship with them can open the door for learning. My upbeat, positive attitude every day can create a relatable learning environment.
DR. KELLY EVANS-WILSON: At Franklin University, we researched the instructor/learner relationship to student success. Knowing students is the key to educational progress. Knowing their learners helps teachers keep them engaged to achieve learning outcomes.
SHELBY FAULKNER BROWN: While state standards are important, it is equally important that teachers are trusted to use their professional judgment to determine what their students need to learn for success in the real world.
KELLEE WILKINS HALL: Give teachers space and trust to do their job, to build relationships. Teachers were some of my most supportive, motivational role models. I wouldn’t be who I am without those relationships helping me grow academically and personally.
EMILY SIDDERS-SHREVE: As an administrator, I know students need rest and nutrition to be ready to learn. We need teachers who prioritize their own physical and emotional wellness. Students will be most successful with teachers taking care of themselves to be ready to take care of our learners.
MINDY LENSMAN: So many kids today have no one they can trust, no one showing them respect. They need the consistency of someone being there for them. My students know from the start that I trust and respect them.
KRISSY FOTT RANDALL: Trust our process. Let us do our job. Let us teach.
CARRIE NEFF TRAYLOR: I teach kids who struggle with attendance, academics, mental health, drug addictions. Building relationships is crucial! As students become more comfortable, they can get the help they need. If kids struggle outside of school, they won’t do well inside school. Being able to discuss and work out issues helps them be successful.
GRAHAM GRADUATES/NOW STAFF
LAUREN BUELL: I need the opportunity to grow professionally so that I don’t become complacent, satisfied with mediocrity. If I become stronger, so will the kids.
CHASITY HOEY OBURN: My 23 years of teaching experience is often questioned. People who have never stepped into a classroom…with absolutely no training… dictate how I should teach. Let well-trained, highly-qualified teachers teach students the way they know is best! Just let them teach!
CHRISTINA SELL: Extremists need to let us do our jobs. Teaching students to care about humanity isn’t a political agenda. Stay out of school safety reforms unless it’s to support implementations that are effective.
GRACE RAMBO: Please trust we are doing our jobs the way we are supposed to. It is my experience that 99% of teachers genuinely love their job, love your kids, and want nothing but the absolute best for them. Trust us to do our job to the best of our abilities. Censoring or scripting curriculum will not help your child. Trust that we know when to pause, slow down, or speed up depending on the needs of the 20+ students in our classrooms. Trust us when we call you about your child having behavioral issues. We spend 1000+ hours with your child in a given school year. If your student isn’t acting like themselves, I want you to know because I genuinely care and am trying to help. There is not a teaching shortage. There are plenty of adults who were once amazing educators. But because of mistrust (amongst other issues) those educators are leaving the profession. Please trust us to teach and care for your child. Because if the current trend continues, there will be no one left to do so.
GRAHAM GRADUATE – JOSH KAUFFMAN: As building principal, I wish people, parents, anyone on the outside looking in would realize our job now goes well beyond teaching kids to merely pass a test, our job instead is to equip them for life while meeting them in their mental health space. We must equip our kids and teachers with time for mindfulness, advisory times. Kids need avenues to belong to something more than themselves or a chance to connect with an adult who puts utmost value in seeing them succeed. If only we would put standardized testing funds towards curbing real stats like teen suicide rates and providing districts trained individuals to meet our ever-growing mental health numbers. Instead, we continue to emphasize test scores while settling for numbers like 10% of our kids attempting suicide. My focus this year in my building and theme within our House System is Turner broadcaster Ernie Johnson’s idea of “blackberry moments”: creating moments with kids; celebrating the smallest things with them; making sure every student we pass in the hall is spoken to; showing up every day and teaching like we mean it; making sure our kids get their social, emotional, psychological, athletic, academic needs met. Bottom line…we have to teach as if our life depends on it because someone else’s life depends on us.