Wednesday, March 18, 2009


A few days ago I decided I wanted to write a teacher appreciation blog post and today I finally have a chance to do it. But Mama Ava beat me to it, and her post is much better than mine would have been. [Edit: Had to laugh when I re-read this last sentence. It suggests that I decided against writing the teacher appreciation post. What is this, then?]

The gospel of Jesus Christ and a family that loves me in spite of my faults, I suppose, would be highest on my gratitude list. After that? My children's teachers. I can't believe how many wonderful teachers we've been blessed with. I mean, really amazing. Within two blocks of my house we have a violin teacher and a piano teacher. The violin teacher is young, passionate, enthusiastic, and energetic. The piano teacher is a sweet, elderly lady who possesses an uncanny knack for inspiring a love for piano in a squirrelly eight-year-old boy. Both of these teachers are committed to excellence.

I thank God for the day I signed Lidia up for Irish step dance classes, because that was the day Fauna came into our lives. All of us are a little in awe of Fauna and how she uses her many gifts to bless our lives. It is rare to find that much professionalism in anyone, say nothing about one so young.

My children like to go to primary and Sunday school. That says a great deal about the preparation of their dedicated teachers, all volunteers. I've already posted on this blog about the enormous influence the Young Women's program teachers and leaders have had on Georgie.

And on top of all that, my children have had many outstanding public school teachers. When my eldest started school, she had three incredible teachers in a row for kinder, first, and second. I thought to myself, "Wow! Do we deserve this? This is just so--unusual." But then the same happened for Lidia. I soon realized that, at least in the places we've lived, "exceptional" teachers are the rule. They have been different in their gifts. Some have been obviously highly intelligent. Some seem to have this sense for what a child needs to make rapid progress. Some are very organized. Some are funny and theatrical. Some connect very well emotionally. Most have a combination of these characteristics, but every single one has shown how dedicated they are to helping my child progress.
When I hear things like, "those who can't do, teach," it makes me sick.

Obama has come out in support of merit pay for teachers. What do you think about that? I don't think it is a bad idea in theory. However, what I'd like to know is, who is going to decide which teachers are deserving of merit pay? Would only the suck-ups end up getting it? And what happens in a school district like mine, where there are SO MANY great teachers?


Anonymous said...

Amen sister!

celtishbee said...

Merit pay for teachers would be problematic for the reason you suggest. A teacher's political abilities don't necessarily have anything to do with how good a teacher she is.

Anonymous said...

What I don't understand is that teachers make practically zilch anyway, so why not just raise the pay all around? Good grief. We basically sacrifice any chance of making enough to support a small family (meaning, any family with at least one child), and possibly of living -- yes, I've been told how to stand in order to lower my chances of being hit by a bullet, or how to handle the situation when (they say "when" not "if") a student brings a weapon to the classroom, and above all, which person in the room is to take an attack before any of the students, all in my classroom management classes. I mean, it's ridiculous. I doubt I'll have all those experiences, but I wouldn't be shocked if I came across one while teaching JH and HS. The least they could do is give us a little security pay!

Sorry, I just feel a little strongly about this topic.

Mama Ava said...

I am in favor of merit pay, and for radically changing/eliminating tenure. The problem is that it should not be tied to test scores and I have yet to hear a plan that would realistically measure and address those things that really make a teacher excellent.

Raising pay requires additional taxes and we know know how that sells. Attaching school budgets to property taxes ensures that districts like Calandria's have great budgets and resources (well, until recently anyway) while neighboring districts have far less.

Education reform touches on so many different systems--social, economic, political, family, etc. No wonder it's impossible to do anything.

I do think for the most part most teachers, like most professionals in other fields, really do work hard and try to do what needs to be done. There are bad apples, yes, as there are in all fields. I get discouraged when the system itself perpetuates or retains those bad apples instead of doing a little housecleaning!

I think everyone should take the time at some point and write a note to a teacher that made a difference in their lives. You have no idea what that means to a teacher--there really are no words to describe it. Humbling, I suppose, to realize that what you did in the course of your day made such an impact!

Brenda said...

I agree with an across-the-board pay raise for teachers. I think we, as a country, need to show more of an interest in teachers and increase their pay base and stand up and say we will not put it in certain business bonuses! I saw a niteline show about the education of students in Finland and I couldn't believe how they support education from facilitating parents being supported while staying home with preschool children to the incredible education system and results. When is our country going to figure out where and when success starts and continues? Do we overanalyze sometimes? What would happen if we just did it?

Mama Ava said...

What would honestly happen? Education would improve--taxes would shoot up. Don't forget that Scandinavian countries have very high tax rates--and in return they have a lot of good systems. I think that there probably are not many Americans willing to make that trade (although I think I would).

Calandria said...

Is money really the solution? I am all for teachers getting higher pay, but I think there are also fundamental differences in our approach to education vs. the northern European approach.

Also, I don't know much about northern Europe, but I hear their population is very homogenous. If you compared the education children get in my district, for example, and that of northern Europe, maybe it would be similar.

athena said...

our children much prefer their teachers here in the states compared to the ones they had in france. much more nurturing. the system could improve on the curriculum though. and i'm for merit pay too. only i would go one step further and take the system out of it.