A new semester is starting in the Xenia Schools this week. Part of me wishes that I was greeting students back to my classroom once again, then sanity reasserts itself and makes me remember that I have already paid my dues in the halls of academe and I need to confine myself to a few days of substitute teaching each month.
My views on teachers and teaching and students are all fairly out of date evidently. In my era , I taught both junior high and high school from 1971-1989, things were very different. And, of course, like most people I maintain that things were better when I was in my prime.
I will start with the teachers. My major difficulty when I am in the schools is twofold. First is the way many of them are dressed. I know the days of heels and pearls and ties and dress slacks are long gone, but good heavens, some of the get-ups are just not appropriate for anyone who is standing in front of the classroom or anywhere else they expect to get respect and attention. Being comfortable is one thing, looking like you rolled out of bed and put on the first thing that came to hand is another.
My second issue with my teachers is that so many of them feel put upon for being teachers. If you think it is a thankless, oppressive , low-paying, job change your career. If I ever felt a little down going to teach made me feel better, interacting with the students charged me up, still does on my odd days there. Not liking your job punishes more than just you.
Now, on to the students. They have not changed much at all in my estimation except they do tend to think they know a bit more than they generally actually do. They are more apt to challenge the teacher than the students I worked with thirty odd years ago. However, any teacher worth his or her salt should be able to meet the challenge.
Finally, the administration. According to some of my teachers several have forgotten the primary role of an administrator , which is to have the teachers¹ backs. Even if they have some doubts about who is wrong in a conflict between teacher and student or teacher and parent it is the duty of the administrator to back his teacher and work out what needs to be taken care of to see it does not happen again later. Teachers are outnumbered. In a regular high school day one may have 180 students or so and those students presumably having two parents that means 360 parents. No way can you please all of the people all of the time. If you cannot trust your teacher¹s judgment you need to get rid of him or her.
The ringing of the first school bell should be an exciting, hope filled, inspiring time for everyone, students, teachers, parents, administrators, town folks. Education is vitally important to quality of life, yours and those around you. Many of the ills of our society stem from people being poorly educated, lacking critical thinking skills, and the ability to do sufficient research to determine what is true and what is not.
Happy New School Year Xenia Community Schools teachers, students, adminsitrators! Hope you have as much fun as I always had from 1954 (kindergarten at Lincoln Elementary) to 1989!
Dr. Cookie Newsom is a retired teacher-professor. Contact her with comments at [email protected]