Your Teachers, Your Gatekeepers

Your Teachers, Your Gatekeepers

There was a golden age— a time, not so long ago— when teachers were like the messengers of the Gods. Mysterious bringers of enlightenment!

The dream begins with a teacher who believes in you, who tugs and pushes and leads you to the next plateau, sometimes poking you with a sharp stick called

And then there was that handful of even more amazing mortals— the GREAT TEACHERS.

We students admired them, wondered about them, hung on each of their words.

We wondered how our teachers knew so much. How had they gone from mere ignorant kids like us, to such KNOWERS? We wanted to learn what they knew.

It’s time to restore the teaching profession to the ranks of honor the profession deserves, and once attained.

It’s not that we need better teachers. Its that we need better students. How many students really want to learn? And how many students (are fortunate enough to) have parents who demand that they LEARN?

In my high school, if one teacher hadn’t taken an interest in me— and I still don’t know why she bothered or cared, except that she was a GREAT TEACHER.

Bottom line for me— without her daily proddings and care, I would never have wanted to work harder… to explore thoughts, concepts, the vast outer world of possibilities.

She provoked me, encouraged me, challenged me, inspired me to invent myself… to learn, to build, to create a new me. She wasn’t paid extra. She had no incentive to do this for me. Except one— she was a GREAT TEACHER.

Her name was Blanche Kaiser Millard, and she was amazing. She was my GATEWAY to the global world of knowledge.

Teachers gathered around the table

(Thank you, Ms Millard, for Shakespeare, Marlowe, Rilke, Austen, Poe, Melville, Dickens, Tolstoi, Hawthorne, Emerson, Wordsworth, Whitman, Flaubert, Hugo, and all the other wondrous voices you installed into my echo-empty skull.)

She raised me up. And I raised her up on my own personal pedestal.

And you need this kind of person in your life. Every one of you.

It’s time for each of you to look at your teachers… and to find your own personal GATEKEEPER.

Think— this teacher has gone where you want to go. This teacher earned a degree, maybe in the field that interests you most.

This teacher wants to share this great knowledge. Don’t you want to receive that knowledge?

Then BE A BETTER STUDENT.

REWARD the hard work of your teachers will RESULTS they can see, and SHARE with you!

In the USA, a national awareness is dawning— that to have better students, we need to elevate the teaching profession to the stature and dignity it once held.

The Obama administration is pressing for “far reaching changes” in these two areas through key federal programs—Race to the Top, School Improvement Grants, the Teacher Incentive Fund, and Title I and IDEA funds under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

“It’s time, once and for all, to make teaching the revered profession it should be,” US Education Secretary Arne Duncan said, in “NEA Today” and AFT’s “American Educator.”

It’s not a new idea.

President John Kennedy— 50 years ago— called for elevating teachers to the status they deserve, as shapers of our future citizens.

Secretary Duncan points wants colleges to improve on teacher preparation, compensation, evaluation, promotion, professional development, tenure, and what he calls the “factory model” of education.

“Teachers want to challenge the status quo,” Duncan says, “and they want to be treated as skilled professionals.” And teacher union leaders are “courageously and candidly speaking out” and “challenging the status quo.”

Both NEA and AFT are supporting initiatives that can help.

“Our guiding principle,” Secretary Duncan says, “is simply that teachers should be treated as professionals: they should have the support, tools, and opportunities to perform at their full potential by having timely and accurate data about their students to inform instruction; they should time to consult and collaborate with their peers; and they should be evaluated, compensated, and advanced based in part on student learning. Student growth and gain…are what we are most interested in.”

Teacher sitting at the coffee table grading papers.

Teachers are human beings. They need encouragement as much as you do.

It’s their job, yes, to teach you. Be willing to learn. Invest your time in study.

Show respect to your teachers in every way you can, especially by improving yourself. That is why they are there.

But its NOT their job to raise your self-esteem if you HAVENT EARNED their extra time and effort.

“No area of the teaching profession is more plainly broken today than that of teacher evaluation and professional development,” said Secretary Duncan.

Teachers are not your enemy, they are gatekeepers to your future. They’ve been where you want to go! They know the way!

Work hard, help open those educational doors.

ENCOURAGE YOUR TEACHERS— TO WORK HARDER WITH YOU!

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