And The “Can’t Dos” Have It

I am really getting sick of everyone starting off sentences with “Teachers can’t….” or “Teachers don’t know how to…” Evidently, America’s favorite past time has become filling in that blank and preparing their finger for some extensive pointing. 


Now, Mrs. Mimi has worked with some suckity suck suck teachers as colleagues.  I know they are out there.  But once I left my former classroom and the rage started to settle, I began to wonder if they all were always that terrible or perhaps (insert glimmer in my eye here) they had been beaten into submission by a system that is broken and hellbent on standardizing us down to how many pencils to sharpen and when.  No sharper!  More point!  You’re doing it all wrong!

Teaching is hard.  Teaching well is even harder.  Combine that with all of the demands that are placed on us (ahem – collecting, recording and interpreting data, writing lessons, planning assemblies, communicating with parents, dealing with fights, social development, social justice, raising test scores, meeting standards, charting standards, filing paperwork, creating portfolios….need I continue?) and all of the fads that are simply dumped in a heap in the middle of our classrooms (oh, I don’t know, like Smart boards for one?).  Tell me.  How do you expect a person who already doesn’t have enough hours in the day to magically incorporate new technology into his or her teaching with little to no professional support in said technology? 

Or are teachers really getting fancy shmancy new things just so that we can continue to say, “Teachers don’t know how to integrate technology.”

I wonder.  What if we focused on what teachers CAN do.  What if we looked at individual teachers’ strengths and then held them up as examples and resources to the remainder of the staff.  Someone probably rocks the Smart board and could hook their other peeps up with some practical and related knowledge.  Someone probably WORKS their data in ways that inform their instruction like you wouldn’t believe.  That person could probably give the rest of the staff some pointers.

Oh yeah.  I’m going there.  I’m suggesting that perhaps we utilize the amazing teachers that everyone admits are out there but no one wants to point a finger at unless they are dressed entirely in leather and/or spending 18 out of 24 hours in their classrooms which is totally ridiculous….wait, where was I?  Oh yes, USING OUR EXISTING EXCELLENT TEACHERS AS RESOURCES.  REAL RESOURCES.  And not just resources for raising test scores.

I say to all those finger pointers who have crafted quite the distraction, “Step out from behind the curtain!  It’s time for the show to be over.”

Your hot air balloon and actual progress are waiting. 

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  • You ROCK my socks off and I like it! Thank you.

    October 5, 2010 at 8:57 pm
  • If you aren't familiar with Dr. Anthony Muhammad, you might want to check out his book called Transforming School Culture. It is an interesting read about the types of people that work within a school and how that relates to the school's culture. Some of your thoughts are along the same lines. Great post!

    October 6, 2010 at 1:13 am
  • i love getting ideas from other teachers, but even more, i love getting time in my day to implement them without having to stay after school or come in early : )

    October 6, 2010 at 1:13 am
  • Amen! I am a 3rd grade public school teacher and I LOVE your blog.

    October 7, 2010 at 1:05 am
  • Great points. In my district we have started to use teachers as resources in "professional learning teams." It's a great idea in theory but of course they are kind of ruining it by making us revise our "question" 600 times and "encouraging" it to be about raising test scores haha.

    Also, why do people talk so much about how teachers are terrible? Yesterday my friend went to the doctor and got screamed at for asking if she could be tested for something… maybe we should talk about how people in a profession as sensitive as health could get some more people skills. Not that I want to just switch blame to others, but really- why are teachers the only ones getting such a negative rep?!

    October 8, 2010 at 2:00 am
  • Here, here Mimi! I absolutely agree with you. Luckily, I have found a place where teacher's opinions and expertise is completed valued. If your area has a chapter of the National Writing Project I urge you to check it out. It's a federally funded organization that promotes teachers as the experts and celebrates what we do well and how we can all learn from one another. Joining my local site completely changed my teaching life! Let me know if you want to learn more. I'd love to share my experience with other great thoughtful teachers. Okay, commercial over. Thanks.

    October 8, 2010 at 2:00 am
  • Get on that soapbox! This is great. I totally agree, and I want to add something to what you were already saying. It takes very LITTLE energy to point fingers. In fact, pointing fingers is passive and requires no action on the part of the pointer. It seems that so many people are so stuck on pointing the finger that they have forgotten to actually get off their butts and actually DO something besides point.

    October 8, 2010 at 12:07 pm
  • You've probably already seen this but:

    Tayor Mali – "What Teachers Make"

    October 10, 2010 at 8:26 pm
  • Not only using teachers as resources for each other but using them to see what is actually GOOD for children and what is developmentally appropriate for them. Children sitting all day is not OK. For anyone.

    Mrs Mimi, you often (I really mean always) say how decisions made for schools and classrooms, teachers and children, should be made by, um, TEACHERS and here's another example.

    October 15, 2010 at 12:40 am

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