One of the most interesting things Toch states in his article is in the very last paragraph–the very last sentence even. “At this point, we need to focus on the hard work of implementing the new standards, not on whether we should have them.” And hard work it is! I am a special educator and I work in a very diverse district. I feel as though there are road blocks at every turn. But I have said this before and I will say it again…my job as a teacher is to find ways to work within the mandates and help my students learn. It’s not easy, but I rely heavily on my colleagues for suggestions and guidance.
I have been teaching for 6 years. I thought I had it down at least fairly well, but as it turns out, I don’t. I get the standards; I know how they work. I understand the curriculum. I know what the state tests look like. It’s all a part of the job. But the biggest part of the job is learning how to reach the students no matter what these mandates are (despite whether or not we agree with them).
What education needs is for everyone to just embrace the new ideas whether they like them or not, so that we can work with them and make those mandates work for our kids. Each and every student. It’s not easy. In fact, it will take a lot of will, grace, resilience, (maybe some tears, a few tough workouts, a massage or two…) but I’m up for the challenge. I care about my students. And if you’re the kind of teacher who cares more about getting through the day, making it to June, or receiving your paycheck, than your students maybe you’re ready for a different vocation. I’m not saying “give up your life to be the best teacher you can be” I’m saying accept the reality and learn to work within it and keep doing all the great things you’re doing. Oh, and learn, learn, learn. That’s my plan.