Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Point of view from a teacher- Part 3

Simply stated, we, absolutely need to reopen physical school for the K-5 population ESPECIALLY in the underserved areas of our country. If we had to feed them, they need to be "warming a seat". Kids from abusive households, in any SES, should be going as well. Period.

The one thing I have always appreciated about the United States is access to education. Education is a melting pot.  Education presents an opportunity to explore your mind and heart and soul together. We don't pigeon hole kids as much as most of the world. We pay our teachers well, in general and spend a lot on schools. We value education.

The research states that every three months out of school shows major regression in what was learned. I was on a national research committee about reforming the school year, because there were so many people being left behind. Summer school, Outward bound, and hundreds of other programs are formed to keep kids moving forward.

There is another huge amount of research that the young child's brain (6-13)is the most  open to "sight symbol"  without the interference of other parts. We "hard wire" reading and basic math at this point. Most children are dependent on kinesthetic education.  Yes, teachers are key---the relationship, the touch on the shoulder, the kind passing word.

Guess what? there is almost NO research on how much young children learn through screens. Yes, they are good at Mindcraft. In my experience, more then 20 minutes of "school like" screen time begs a kid to do something else. They are not connected/engaged.

The biggest voices in this fight- and yes it is a fight- are the middle and upper middle class. I don't use this lightly, I see their words as <<PRIVILEGED>> ELITIST>>POLITICAL>>SCARED
Their children might lose some education during this time of virtual. BUT, the can figure out a way to get that "teacher" relationship with their children. Some though nannies or (usually) the female in the house.....so much for Women's movement. Pods are the new thing (five likeminded families sharing an retired teacher).
These have NO idea how difficult it will be to, not only, get kids back in school after they are allowed.
By closing for another year- trust will be so eroded. I fear the loss of an entire group of upwardly mobile kids. Socioeconomic and racial divide will grow--a gap I have worked ALL of my adult life to help close. AGGGG!

My bias is strong.

Three of the schools that I taught at had many (and that is many) students who were abused, attacked, exposed to drugs or drink or porn. School was a time for them to just be for themselves.
I remember teaching a nine year old first grader to read and write. He was the ONLY person in his house who could do that in English. He became the negotiator for the contracts for his family to pick fields---AFTER school.
I have taught older kids to read and do basic math. It is possible. It was a one on one struggle. That is why the standard is if they do not function well be third grade, they need more.

Would I teach during this time- nope. Not in person. I would ask to take a year off and give up my slot for someone who is younger, in better condition. Less likely to catch the virus and be very ill.

I would do this for two reasons. I know that I am older and people will worry. Also, I think that schools will forever be different after this and teachers will quickly become a "thing of the past" and I hate that idea. I see great value of classroom education. This group of parents may find other ways to spend their taxes....

Let me give you background. Why do I do this? You need to know that what I say comes from experience and study.
I had a mish mash elementary education at, what is now considered, an excellent private school. During my third and fourth grade years I had seven teachers. Only two thirds of my eighth grade class went on to high school.
I am a horrid speller. I did not learn to read or do math, properly, until college. 

These experiences set my course for teaching.
No other children should be left behind.
I graduated from a leading program in the US.
 BS Early Childhood Education +70 graduate hours from seven different universities.
I've been on many honor rolls.
My favorite summers were at Learning and the Brain out of Harvard.

My teaching experiences?
Cactus Wren- Phoenix - an "open classroom" 150  first graders, mostly Hispanic, in a pod formation.
Taft Elementary- Mesa AZ. Migrant workers. New class of 30-35 students every nine weeks
Wuerzburg Elementary- Germany- 30 first grade students from every walk of Army life from well run families and two who were "shipped back to the states" for severe mental illness.
Pentagon and Fort Ben Harrison Indiana- Workshops for childcare workers and parents.
Holy Spirit- Annandale VA- 15 Kindergarteners from high income homes
St Mary's- Junction City KS- Preschoolers from middle income families
Iolani School Honolulu- Library- $$$$$
Hong Kong International- 4th grade- $$$$$$$$$$$$$
Saudi Arabian International- 5th grade- mostly upper middle or military officer kids.
Leupp Elementary - Navajo nation- 2nd grade - mostly Hogan living kids
St Mary's - Flagstaff- 6-8th grades- the only snobs I ever taught
Cromer Elementary- Flagstaff- 4th grade. Middle class ranching/Navajo kids
Junction City Middle School- 6th grade/ SPED- mostly kids from either generationally impoverished or solid working middle class.
Saxon Inservice Teacher- 700 schools in 49 states -  middle to lower class or Christian schools. From inner city (be careful not to get shot at) to end of the country Alaska.


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  2. Rough call, and what ever the call is, it will be wrong for someone. I am on your side with this for many reasons, but I do see the issue, especially the threat of law suits. The consequences of opening will be obvious and quantifiable, the consequences of staying closed will be serious, but not quantifiable. Hard for teachers for sure, but they are essential workers much like my step son who had to stock grocery shelves when NJ was the epicenter of this virus.

    I do agree with you, but still it is a difficult call especially as we still do not know so much about this virus.