Guest post by superintendent of Revere Public Schools in Massachusetts, Dr. Paul Dakin
Teachers are our under-appreciated heroes
In my nine years as a classroom teacher and thirty-one as an administrator in both a private and a public school system, I have witnessed a revolution in our profession. Our schools were once the place where children spent a predictable part of each day in fall, winter, and spring with pencils, paper, and books, then were released for twelve or more weeks in summer. Today schools have become a multi-service organization providing year-round care for the children in our stead.
Over the years the role of the teacher has evolved from content specialist delivering information and knowledge in lectures and teacher-centered activities to classroom coach and guide, differentiating instruction to multi-lingual and multi-ability students through a curriculum that must meet the highest standards. In addition, unlike teachers fifty years ago, teachers today have to defend their every decision to parents, students, the media, and professional evaluators. Fifty years ago the teacher was considered an expert; now teachers are considered the cause of much of what is wrong with society. If students drop out, if students engage in drinking or experimenting with drugs, if students fail, if students are bullied, if students do poorly and don’t meet standards, if students withdraw and become violent (there have been over 180 deaths in schools since the year 2000), the administrators and the teachers are the first to be blamed. Few look for the real causes of these problems.
So teachers are my heroes because they keep teaching despite the lack of support from the public, lack of support from legislators who continue to pass the buck onto teachers as the cause of the problems in schools and society, and the lack of support from parents, guardians, and grandparents who blame the schools for their own shortcomings in raising their children.
Yes, teachers are my heroes and deserve to be appreciated for all they do because they don’t give up on the real and complex problems facing the real and complex children they serve, and they continue to put up with the lack of respect from a society and from people who just don’t understand all they do.