I've always been amazed with illusion. First, you see it; then you don't. They can do card tricks, slight of hand, and even levitate. How they do it, I don't know. But these acts entertain millions and I am one of them.
One of the tricks that baffle me are the escapes. I know there are secrets as to how they do it but I typically don't know how it's done. When people have their hands tied, handcuffed, and shackled by their feet, escapes shouldn't be possible. Yet, they are time and time again.
Thinking about these incredible acts, it strikes me as amazing that teachers are supposed to make the magic happen much like an illusionist no matter how unrealistic the trick really is. Here are some examples.
1. Teachers aren't handcuffed but they are significantly restrained by what they can and can't do. For example, when discipline problems exist in the classroom, there is not much a teacher can do besides deal with it to the best of their ability. Remember, every minute spent dealing with a behavior issue is a minute taken from your child's education. The time lost is not accounted for when future tests are taken.
Unfortunately, there's not a lot an administration can do as well. I remember as a teacher some colleagues would get mad at the principal and the counselor because of their lack of help. The problem is there are hundreds of kids in a school and they have a laundry list of things that have to be accomplished. In all my years, I never caught a principal or counselor playing card games on the computer or sitting around doing nothing.
2. Teachers are expected to solve what appears to be an unsolvable mystery. What is a teachers job? Simplistically, most of us would say to teach. But, since teachers are evaluated on test scores, what happens when they are low? Does it mean a teacher spent almost 10 months with a kid and didn't teach? That seems a bit unlikely.
Test scores are obviously a quantifiable measure of progress. But, this isn't like working the line at Ford Motor Company. The parts aren't all the same. Yet, teachers are supposed to produce a highly qualified and highly efficient test taking machine. Does this mean I disapprove of testing? No. Does it mean I approve of standardized testing? Not really. Again, it's an unsolvable mystery to me.
One of the main differences between an illusionist and teacher is this. An illusionist only appears to have an unsolvable mystery. With teachers, it's real.
3. Teachers are expected to "perform" like illusionists with kids even if they aren't ready for the course work. When a third grade teacher has to work with a 1st grade brain (happens a lot more than you may think) then either you give the kid extra instructional time (which means the other kids get less) or partially neglect the kid (in the air of fairness to the others) or totally neglect the kid (in order to work with the other kids who are on or closer to grade level). There are not too many more options for teachers. Whatever direction the teacher goes will directly influence your child.
The grandest illusion of all is when parents believe schools will solve the problems. The public has been fed the same line way before I started teaching and year after year, there are many parents who believe them. That's why they get so mad at the system when problems occur. They actually were fooled in believing it was going to work to begin with. While it's frustrating even to me at times, I don't get surprised or upset. I have responded by educating my kids to the best of my ability and wrote a blog almost 6,000 people have hit telling you all about it and what to do.
Teachers work very hard but many are in a "box" they can't escape. I was in that box as well and didn't realize it until years AFTER I left the profession. When I taught, I can guarantee you I worked a lot of hours, ran a disciplined classroom, and taught the lessons I was expected to teach to the best of my ability. There were kids who exploded with knowledge as the school year progressed. There were others though who I couldn't help enough and continue to be "shackled" to this day.
Please keep a finger on the pulse of your children's education and help whenever you can. Don't get caught up in the illusions. I promise you'll never regret a minute of life working with a child you love.
As I said before, this will be my last post for a while. I try not to say never because I know better. For those who have been following, you know I wrote a parenting book and am looking for the right publisher. It takes an extraordinary amount of time to do this. I am to the point where this needs to be my focus. The purpose of the blog was to help great parents become even better and to get my name in the cyber world. I truly feel I have accomplished both in a big way and had a lot of fun in the process.
I have had many people ask me about the book and when it will be available. I am not sure but if anyone who has followed my work would like to purchase a copy down the line, shoot me an email. If and when the book is published, I am sure I will be deep in the blogosphere again.
As far as people who have submitted parenting questions, I plan on responding to you privately. If you are going to take the time to ask a question, I should take the time to answer it to the best of my ability. This blog will also stay up indefinently. If you have a question in the future, feel free to shoot me an email. My door will stay open for you.
I wasn't sure how to end this blog until I checked my Twitter messages (@claylauren2001) about 10 minutes ago. A girl I've never met wrote to me "we are beginning an adoption process from an orphanage and wanted some tips." I fully admit I teared up a bit. Anyone who knows my past would understand why. If I help this stranger out in the smallest bit, all the hours spent in the creation, promotion, and writing of this blog will have been worth it.
Thanks again to everyone who has made this blog the success it's been. Thanks for telling your friends. Thanks for your comments. Thanks for your words of encouragement. If all goes well, maybe I'll be in a town near you someday signing my book.
Goodbye (for now) from the world of Tantrums, Troubles, and Treasures.