School is out. Your kids are on vacation.
How about their teachers?
Last week I spoke to Trish Scardino, assistant principal at Beverly Hills Elementary to check in on the school’s teachers.
“Where are they these days,” I asked.
“Our teachers are here throughout the summer,” Scardino told me. “We can’t keep them out.”
I asked what the teachers were doing.
They are working in their classrooms and writing lesson plans. Taking the books they have purchased with their own money and classifying them according to reading level for next year’s students.
You might find them working on curriculum teams, and rewriting and tweaking the curriculum maps teachers will use the following year.
Curriculum maps, which set goals for each quarter, describe the step structure that will enable students to reach goals and establish ways to evaluate the process. They get tweaked every summer. All year round, curriculum teams receive input from teachers, learning how things play out in the classroom, which is essential to create improved models for next year.
If they are not working as part of a curriculum team, you may find your children’s teachers attending professional development institutes. Keep it in mind: Though the district might offer a day’s worth of pay to the teacher or some compensation time, the decision to attend such an institute is largely made at the teachers’ own expense and on their own time.
“These teachers work around the clock year-round for 10 months’ salary that barely supports them living on their own,” Scardino said.
How far does the passion for teaching drive our teachers?
Scardino describes seeing teachers work with children on acquiring skills that their parents should have taught them long before they stepped into a classroom. How many children learn from their teachers how to tie their shoes? You’d be surprised.
Teachers provide the snack during the day that the children’s family can’t afford to provide. Teachers supply affection that might be missing at home.
“They love the students like their own,” Scardino says.
No one goes into teaching unless they bring passion and dedication to the work.
As a volunteer so many years ago, I witnessed that fact again and again.
When my son, Erik, was in first grade at Beverly Hills Elementary School in Concord, he went to school with a boy I’ll call Mike. Sarah Deabler was their teacher.
Each time I walked into Erik’s class, Mike would run up to me.
“Mommy!” he’d call.
About the third time Mike ran into my arms, I remembered to find out later about Mike from the teachers.
“Sarah,” I asked, “why does (Mike) call me ‘mommy’ every time he sees me?”
“He calls us all ‘mommy,’” she said. Then she and her assistant taught me – about Mike’s home life, which did not include his mother, but also about the many ways in which teachers become parents, guardians and beacons to children while they learn to read and write.
We don’t invest much in our teachers. They get little respect, terrible pay and awful hours in exchange for labors of love. They pay for their own professional development with time they could otherwise spend resting and recuperating. They pay for the art supplies and the books their children use in the classrooms. They do not ever stop working for the sake of those children and our future.
This summer, I hope you will hike in the mountains. I wish you and your children time to walk on a beautiful beach somewhere.
While you do, take a moment to ask: Where are your kids’ teachers?
Barbara Thiede is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Barbara? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.