Teacher support

| April 18, 2011

“Look, I have to go. Believe it or not, I’m teaching a class right now…. Yeah, well you’re welcome to come down here if you’d like to try that.” Ms. G hung up the phone and looked at me. “Why do people think this is so easy? Do they really think I have nothing going on in here?”
As I tried to give her some measure of support, all I could think about was the teacher-bashing going on in America. It’s pretty clear that many people do think Ms. G’s job is easy. There is a loud sentiment around the country that teachers like her really aren’t doing anything. That they’re too concerned with keeping hold of tenure that promises them a fat paycheck in exchange for little actual work.
Later that day, the Story Pirates came to class. As they were getting the students ready to participate, Ms. G went around handing out student work that she had collected, collated, and commented on overnight. While she handed out the papers, I sat with my Buddies and watched her correct student behavior and participate in the Pirates’ activities. It was a small thing, certainly not capable of quantification or standardized assessment, but it was another example of her quality work in the classroom.
I’ve told Ms. G several times that, out of 26 classrooms in 9 schools across every grade, hers is my favorite. I can’t say that she has the best management; other third grade rooms are more orderly. Her students may not have the highest test scores either. But I have yet to see another NYC teacher who openly cares about their students the way Ms. G does. Who has integrated wildly changing school policies as smoothly. Who incorporates such wide variation in student abilities. Who puts up with constant–CONSTANT–interruptions from the phone, announcements, administrators, TC Buddy programs, pull-out sessions, colleague questions, and a bell schedule that is always changing.
I think it was a great thing that the Story Pirates showed up when they did. Ms. G got to sit with her children at laugh at their ridiculous stories. They yelled and waved and wrote. And even though it was a “just for fun” activity, Ms. G kept encouraging the students to push their work. Definitely not easy. There’s a lot going on in there. And really, most of it is good.