Student Teacher Responds To Frederick Teacher Who Says Students Are Lazy

(Astrid Riecken / The Washington Post)
Courtesy of Astrid Riecken, The Washington Post

Pulsefeedz has received an anonymous response to another anonymous response which is catching fire across the interwebs. Valerie Strauss, a writer for the Washington Post, recently wrote an article full of responses from teachers to a simple but complex question: “How hard is teaching?”

A former 7th grade teacher in Frederick, Maryland responded to the question and her response is going viral for it’s candidness. Strauss described the response saying:

“…she describes students who don’t want to work, parents who want their children to have high grades no matter what, mindless curriculum and school reformers who insist on trying to quantify things that can’t be measured.”

Read the 7th grade teacher’s response by clicking HERE.

Now, here is a response to her response from a student teacher who happens to reside in the same area:

I personally think it varies from teacher to teacher. Teaching is not easy, and I realized that back in high school when I was mentored by a teacher there. Some go into teaching because they firmly believe all they will do is teach. It’s not true.

Teachers do everything mentioned in the article, and more. The thing I took from the article about the teacher leaving is that she got into teaching for all the wrong reasons. She was one of those that thought it was all about teaching the subject and leaving. When, in reality, teaching isn’t completed until an individual truly understands something, so that may mean giving an alternative assignment to them because they failed the first one, or it may mean working with the student or the parents to see if a possible extension would help out.

I firmly believe that the ones that leave teaching after the first few years are the ones that failed to realize that teaching is a lot more than just delivering subject matter. It involves making students understand the subject. Now, do I think we should be having kids playing dumb activities to learn material all the time, as the teacher states? No, but I also think she sounds more like someone who should give the high school classroom a chance.

Middle school kids cannot sit still in a classroom and just listen to lecture as it sounds like she was doing. They do require a little more movement and the participation in fun activities to learn. The HS classroom may be better for her.

She mentions preparing kids for testing. My thing I’ve learned from my mentor these past few years is to infuse in within the curriculum. If you’re giving an exam on a book, have a PARCC setup to the test. It’s easier that way, and it sounds like she was trying to go out of her way to teach those materials. I’m not going to say she’s lazy, but it sounds like she needs to be at the HS level, and it also sounds like she got the wrong impression when she chose teaching.

Teaching is not about simply delivering material, but it’s about making sure students grasp it. It means staying up all night grading so that kids get immediate feedback. It means giving alternative assignments when kids don’t grasp it. And, there’s a difference in middle and high. Middle is kinda like an extension to elementary, so those kids will require a little more time, and parents will be more prominent. High school is a lot more delivering information, but the same theory applied to assignments with giving alternative ones, etc.

Moral of the story: don’t get into teaching if you think all you will ever do is deliver information. Sadly, no one realizes that, which is why so many teachers quit the first 5 years, and it’s why the public thinks teachers are lazy. And, the teachers that enjoy their jobs and grasp the concept of teaching are the ones we never hear from. It’s always the ones that failed those concepts I went over above.

5 Comments

    • @Trayla…I completely agree! As a veteran teacher (21 years), I got into teaching because it was my calling. It is what I believe I was designed to do. I fully understood that in involved finding ways to ensure that students understood the material I was required by the state to teach. I’ve seen a huge pendulum swing in the years that I have taught. More students used to be motivated to learn and would at least put in the effort, some effort. Parents wanted their children to do well but fully understood that it was the combined efforts of the teacher, the student and themselves that created the ideal educational situation. Nowadays, too many do not have the desire to learn. You can try different methods. Try using computers with them to engage them and they will be caught on a website they are not supposed to be on. (Of course, you will receive the blame for not monitoring them more closely and “allowing” them to access the site.) Try teaching something through story telling and relating it back to the content and they interrupt you and then go off on an unrelated tangent. Call the parents and they either don’t answer or they are upset you interrupted their day. Parents “can’t” help their children with their homework because “it’s so different from when [they] were in school”. We have teachers at a middle school the give up their mornings, lunches and after school time to provide time for students to receive extra support…and students do not show up. We have teachers who are paid to provide after school support to identified students that are not performing and those students have to be hunted down to attend!

      As a STUDENT teacher, this young lady has very little frame of reference from which to speak. Once she has taught in a paid situation, solely responsible for the performance of her students-and held financially accountable for that performance-for a minimum of five years, it would be interesting to hear what her perspective is. I mean no disrespect to her but her comments would be like me talking about what life is like and what is wrong with choral instruction or a band just because I sing in an organized choir.

  1. But that’s exactly what the original writer was saying — She doesn’t have the time to help each student learn as s/he can or needs to, because that instructional time is being filled with tests and test prep, on subjects/skills(?) that are shallow and “measurable,” and that teachers are chastised for teaching anything that won’t be tested/measured. In addition, planning time is being morphed into “teacher prep,” where teachers are “trained” to write plans with specific words and objectives and are hopefully being indoctrinated into “embracing” these changes as “meaningful educational reform.”

  2. I’m certified to teach elementary school and graduated in 2010. My student teaching experience was NOTHING like the school year I spent teaching as a long-term substitute (the teacher never came back due to health problems). I loved my students and the positive school community I was fortunate to be a part of, but quickly found what the veteran 7th grade teacher wrote about to be true. My colleagues who were all veteran teachers also felt the same way. When that position ended I was sick with stress and regretted my decision to get my degree in education. I was also angry and upset about being misled about both the demand for teachers and what teaching is like…but that’s a whole different can of worms!

    It bothers me that someone who’s never had their own classroom would feel confident enough to bash a veteran teacher without the experience or knowledge to back up their opinion. It further disturbs me that an educated person in a teacher preparation program doesn’t seem to have enough critical thinking skills to realize this…even insinuating that the veteran teacher is lazy!

    I know this is all my opinion, too, but the little time I’ve spent teaching has shown me how much I don’t know and still need to learn. Hopefully, there are still veteran teachers left in the field when I finally get in to help me navigate through the ever chopper and more political waters of public education.

  3. Student teaching is almost nothing like the actual job. I can attest to that as I’ve gone through it recently. After I graduated college, I worked in private industry for a few years- soon I learned I how much I hated corporations and the office environment. I have friends/family who are teachers, and I always thought about becoming a teacher, so I went back to get my certification last year. I am in my first year of teaching high school now, and I can certainly attest to the statements written in the original letter. I was shocked at how lazy, unmotivated, and entitled many of these students were. I am teaching regular-level math classes, and it appalls me that these going to be the “average” folk of our society in several years.

    I am fascinated with the Common Core because I know, when used and implemented correctly, it can make a huge difference in how our students think and learn (especially in math). I’ve quickly learned though that these students are unwilling to change. I try to relate the content to real life and make the lessons engaging and have a “discussion” in class rather than lecture (as I was told in my cert. program), but the students just seem to get more frustrated and annoyed when I try this. They just want to show up to class, have me give them all the information/answers they need to know for the test, and expect an A. It amazes me how many students come to me on a regular basis asking for “extra credit” when they haven’t even done the work I’ve asked them to do! I am also constantly berated by students for not allowing them to re-take a test. RE-TAKE?! LIFE HAS NO RE-TAKES!

    I am also curious what college professors think of the incoming classes. I tell my kids all the time that you have to work hard, study, and take things seriously in real life. I just hope we are not “dumbing down” our college education system too…

    I still ponder whether or not I want to be in this career for the rest of my life. Instincts are telling me probably not- family and my happiness comes first. I know that sounds selfish as a teacher, but I only have one life to live, and I want to live it with no regrets. I will probably be a teacher for several more years, but I hope something new will come my way because I don’t know how I could be in this environment for so much longer. The American society needs to change- teachers are way too under-appreciated, overworked, and fed-up.

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