We enter the seasons of Thanksgiving and Christmas after having celebrated the sacrifice of our military and the protection of our liberty. Students in my class learn that liberty, as we define the principle, is the right to self-determine.
Liberty presupposes the responsibilities and self-discipline required to maintain this truly American ideal. Many of the cultural prognosticators have determined that our liberties are being eroded by a combination of personal laziness, failed schools or government overregulation. The only cultural commentary that is in line with my pay grade is manifested in our local public school.
Everyday a group of hard-working and dedicated professionals unlock the door (literally) for student learning. Test scores and results (we call it data) all are used to measure student learning, inform the effectiveness of teaching strategies and ultimately, judge our effectiveness.
As a 21-year veteran of the classroom, I can’t remember how many different programs, curriculums, strategies or mandates have been hoisted upon the shoulders of teachers to improve the outcomes of our teaching. I am armed with the latest, best, guaranteed curriculum that will deliver the knowledge necessary for student success.
Most of us are highly motivated, dedicated to the cause, and some days either lose our voice or shed a few pounds trying to motivate and energize students to learn. Some students come aboard and we ride the crazy train together and some real learning takes place. Other students carry baggage so heavy and burdensome that getting on the train is improbable. Still others aren’t at the train station when we pull out or decide against boarding at all.
We have afforded the right to self-determine to our students and as we teachers stand on the platform each morning, I always am hopeful the students are making the best decision for their future because they are our future!
At least that’s what I think.