Reform Real Chat from a Teacher Wannabe

I have wanted to be a teacher since I was a kid. There something about school I have always loved, there is so much hope in education. In general I have always been an extremely idealistic person, sometimes to an unrealistic point. For example when I was in preschool we did weather reports each day. No matter what the actual weather was outside my report was always that it was partly partly (half sunny and half cloudy) outside. A hurricane could have been going on outside but I was convinced I could still see the sun behind the clouds. This kind of positive outlook is how I have seen the world, and why I originally wanted to get into teaching. Within my undergrad thus far I have taken several education classes that have taught me to see education in a truer light. Education is flawed, the world and school is not equal for all. I do not view this as a discouraging thing but as reality.

This semester I am in three education classes, this week all of them discussed some aspect of education reform. We as a society are always searching for a quick fix, something easy that can apply to all. Many education reforms seem to take on this approach. To me it seems so much more complicated than this. The desire and need for reform has lasted for decades, and we still have not been able to solve all the problems that exist. Why would one piece of legislation, or one person be able to quickly solve problems that no one else could? Reforms are supposedly designed to create equality for all students. That idea does not even make sense to me. Every student is different, has their own experiences and dreams. How is one reform supposed to work for all students then?

From what I have learned so far it seems like reform is often too idealistic and not realistic enough like I used to be. It is easy to spell out all the things that are wrong with education. Examples of this are grading and testing. Grading is harsh, creates competition, and can lower self-esteem. Standardized test are flawed and do not foster a true learning environment. The idealistic reform to these problems are to just get rid of testing and grading. This simply is just not practical.

If I am being honest I do not really want to learn about idealistic reforms because they will not help me in the classroom. If anything these reforms will be short lived and seem to fade out quickly. Even if I do not think grading or test are great I cannot throw them out the window…this is just asking to get fired. I want to learn about concrete ways I can make my classroom better. So how can I grade my students in a fair and nurturing way? Instead of being told the flaws of education and the need for reforms that may not happen I want to be taught how to make things work in my class. It can feel aggravating hearing about things that are not realistic. I crave and need truth. Having a sunny outlook is not bad, but it does not necessarily create change or make good teachers. I think there has to be a balance. The hope for better schools and teachers needs to exist but there has to be simple and real plans to make positive change happen.

Beth Gaudette

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6 Responses to Reform Real Chat from a Teacher Wannabe

  1. Eric says:

    I really engaged with this post, because it reminded me of how I felt about education reform when I was an undergrad. The lesson I try to remember now is that every education policy was a reform to some other, previous policy. Why do we have lots of testing now? Because someone thought having more testing would “reform” the problems of schools when there were fewer tests. And maybe that “reform” fixed some things but created other, new problems. Related: there are about 100 thousand schools in the US. For comparison, there are about 35 thousand post offices in the US and about 15 thousand McDonald’s. So any change is going be hard. Like, a really big job. Gigantic. Thanks for the post!

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  2. DAD says:

    I miss those partly, partly days…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Batman says:

    You should watch The Wire, the later seasons deal extensively with how the breakdown of institutions intended to help school kids instead end up promoting a cycle of failure and crime.

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  4. kellyeb2015 says:

    The idea of the sun always being behind the clouds reminds me of when I taught at the Alamance CC Childcare center. We did group time, and when it was time to do the weather, at least one child would always say “It’s SUNNY!” regardless of what the weather actually was. Having a positive outlook is something that I have found essential to all teaching. All children learn differently, and one needs to be aware that regardless of the circumstances, every child can succeed. Your thoughts on reform are ones that I share. Whatever the reform may be, there is no guarantee that it will work, and it is near impossible that it will work for everybody. Teaching is about helping each child succeed regardless of the circumstances, and while some reforms may have the intention of helping all children, the way in which they are executed in fact does not help all children (or teachers for that matter).

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  5. Pingback: Success With the Multi-Authored Blog | Confessions of a Bored Academic

  6. Pingback: Success With the Multi-Authored Blog – Teaching Academia

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