Let me start by saying that I KNOW not all school districts are the same. As I sit back and watch what’s happening to some of my former colleagues and other teachers throughout the country, I’m horrified.
Just this week I heard of a district in another state where teachers had to PAY BACK a large percentage of their earnings because there are budget problems. So these teachers are going to work, and actually having to pay money to do so. I understand that sometimes there has to be a limit to raises – but to actually take away money… that’s just horrific.
It’s no secret that teachers spend a lot of money to purchase resources, materials and supplies for their classroom. Fortunately, many districts allow teachers to submit for reimbursement for some of these expenses, if the funds allow. Recently, a district in my state has said they absolutely will NOT approve reimbursement for the purchase of lesson plans and resources purchased from various sources, including online websites. For the life of me, I cannot understand WHY districts wouldn’t encourage teachers to get lesson plans and ideas from websites, such as Teachers Pay Teachers. These lessons are made by TEACHERS, not corporations. They are classroom tested and have reviews left by other teachers! It just doesn’t make sense.
This same district informed teachers that they cannot sell lessons they create online if they are made on board of ed time. That makes sense to me. What you do on your paid time at work, belongs to work. So, teachers can create lessons at home and sell them, right? Well… yes… but then you can’t use them in your classroom. And what about that awesome review activity a teacher just made for the upcoming Science test. She can share it with her teammates right? No. She can’t. Not without approval from her content area supervisor. Why? The supervisor needs to first check to make sure it aligns with the curriculum.
This information makes me beyond furious. Teachers are professionals. They are creative and intelligent. By telling them they cannot (1) create their own resources, (2) buy resources from other teachers and (3) must have anything they DO make be checked, is an unbelievable way to treat professional adults.
Classroom teachers are the ones who spend the time getting to know their students, and figuring out the way they learn. I’m sorry, but district approved textbooks are NOT the way to go for all (honestly, probably most) students. Children of all ages thrive on being able to work collaborative, and demonstrate their learning on more than just a black and white worksheet.
I feel sad for my former colleagues, and sad for teachers everywhere. There are so many brilliant minds in teaching. Brilliant minds with brilliant ideas that are being stifled by the politics of education. I hope that one day teachers will be able to teach freely again, and be trusted to do the jobs they are trained to do. But honestly, I feel like it’s only going to get worse.
I feel sad for my children who are going to grow up in schools that are more concerned with policies and politics rather than teaching students to learn in a way that is creative and relevant. I worry that they will have teachers who are frustrated and angry with the system – not carefree and fun like the teachers I had growing up.
I don’t know what the answer is, but I know many districts have the wrong one. Let the teachers teach. They know what they’re doing. They’re adults. They’re creative, and smart, and fun.