So many of you have written to ask me if I ever heard from Sarah, the young teacher who was upset and overwhelmed by the data-driven curriculum her administration was forcing on her, her colleagues and her students. Well, I did hear from her this week and I thought that I would share her second email with you.
What are your thoughts about Sarah’s interpretation of the job that colleges are doing in preparing (or not preparing) students for the teaching work ahead of them? I do have my own thoughts on this, but before sharing them, I’d like to hear your opinions.
Here is Sarah’s email to me:
I wanted to reply and tell you thank you! I am so sorry that I have not had a chance to respond to your email or write on your blog!
Thank you truly from my heart for your and your colleagues for their words of inspiration! I am leaving the school where I work. I am also moving home to Cincinnati! I am originally from Cincinnati.
I’m really looking forward to reading more in your upcoming blog posts! It will certainly be helpful as I begin the next phase in my career. I’m still not sure what type of work I will be doing next. I love learning about reading and the learning process. Maybe a master’s degree so I can become a little more knowledgeable so I can tell those policymakers to stop telling us what to do! Being out in the real world and discussing with other teachers and instructional coaches has made me realize though how so many of our colleges are not competently preparing students for teaching. I think if teachers were more competently trained in the background of what goes on while a child is learning to read and write and even what goes on inside the brain when a child is learning math they would be more confident to stick up for the art of teaching. Does that make sense? How do we change this? How do we relay a message that teaching is a science and art and both are needed to educate our children? Not only do we need to change our attitudes. We need to change our environments. How much difference the environment can relay to one as they enter it. Some environments respect children and some respect the law. I think those are two clearly different perspectives.
Again thanks so much for taking the time to respond. It was an honor to be on your blog post…I certainly don’t mind at all!
Thanks so much! Have a great weekend!
P.S. My kids will be breaking out the watercolors next week : )
Here’s my thoughts – It’s not just happening in the field of teaching but rather for many other jobs you could think of. I am from Singapore and although education is said to be “great” here it is sadly of no difference from what was being described as college education by Sarah. Everything is about standards, grades, results and more results. Nothing is practical, really. That is basically the frustration we often faced when we try to apply what we have learnt to an actual situation. They focus on teaching you what it will be in an “ideal” situation (which only happens once in a million years) and worst still they test and assess you based on those ideal situation. Theory states that we should be promoting divergent thinking, but are we being educated that way? Well, that’s the sad truth.
I was extremely moved when I read Renee’s first posting about your reaction to your student’s sadness and stress. Imagine my surprise when I read your recent letter ascribing the cause of the problem to the inadequacy of teacher training. That has been my work for the past 30 plus years and while I can’t vouch for all the college preparatory programs in our country I also do not stand behind all the art teachers K-HS either.
What good does it do to cast blame upon each other?
Yes, there are weaknesses in the entire system of public education and the colleges and universities that prepare our teachers. But how we and the government address those weaknesses is the real question that you should be asking.
Amy Brook Snider, Professor
Art and Design Education, Pratt Institute
I can’t imagine how you are feeling- it’s hard enough trying to learn how to survive your first year !!!!! The added pressure of implementing Common Core, performance assessments, etc can be so overwhelming! ! I have been teaching K/1 for 15 years and I understand how hard it is to balance everything you are told to do and everything you know as an educator you should do for children. The only thing I can offer is what my colleagues offered me when I first started – a chance to observe and time to talk. So… I teach downtown at the Spruce Street School (M397). If you have any personal days left and you would like to come to my classroom and spend the day with us, we can talk about how to make create a classroom where teaching is purposeful and meaningful- because I think it can exist!