Saturday, August 2, 2008

What teachers talk about

Here is a summer quiz just to keep you sharp. Read the following list and determine if it was generated by:

A. St. Paul teachers, or
B. Yemeni teachers

When teachers have time to talk to one another, what do they talk about wanting to improve about teaching?
Crowded classrooms
Too much noise in the classroom
Discouraging environment inside and out
No ventilation, no lighting
Village schools have many different grade levels in the same room
Students drop out
Deficient curriculum
Lack of audio-visual aides
Weakness of some teacher’s performance
School buildings not suitable for teaching
Girls dropping out
Lack of modern technology
Syllabus much more rigorous than student ability
Students getting absentminded (day dreaming) in the afternoon
Lack of classroom space in villages so students study under trees
Students not interested in studies
Principals sometimes act like dictators with teachers
The new syllabus is not always suitable for teaching techniques needed in training
Scientific mistakes in books
Financial problems
Problems between teachers and principals and sometimes parents
Some teachers lack effective methods to hold student attention
Teacher training programs are inadequate
Social workers in some schools who don’t do anything
Families do not stress the importance of school
No specialization in some subjects
Some basic subjects in 1st-6th grade are too difficult
Lack of communication between school and family
The phenomenon of cheating
Some teachers interested in subject matter but don’t take responsibility to teach behavior
Syllabus not provided at the beginning of the school year
Teachers don’t do any professional development
Some colleagues spend a lot of time talking about negative things with nothing positive to say ever
Lack of access to teacher manuals—not given to the teacher
Some teachers are assigned to teach subjects that are not their specialty
School management does not cooperate with teachers; they interfere with a teacher’s work with students
Students fail, an influential person comes to school and the student is suddenly passing
School management deals with teachers according to political affiliation

If you picked “B. Yemeni teachers” you were right! You pass with honors if you used the testing strategies of context clues (the word “village”) and prior knowledge (knowing I am in Yemen) to choose the answer without even reading the passage carefully.

Of course, as I discussed with leaders and members of the Yemeni Teachers Syndicate today, it is easy to complain about our jobs. However, it is courageous and incumbent upon the richness of our union history to do something about it. That is exactly what each one of us can do as the voice of our union in our buildings, in our departments or grade levels, and in our district. We may not have every problem on this list, but each one of us can find one that we do recognize AND that we can collectively work to improve, whether it is 3 of us speaking up at a faculty meeting or 3000 of us standing up for each other.

Each act we carry out that improves our profession and the learning experience of our students makes us powerful.

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