One of the recent images that perpetually floats around Twitter is the “You can’t put students first if you put teachers last.” I have to say that on the surface this seems like a logical statement; it seems as if there is little wrong with this statement. However, something about it began bother me like a Ceti Eel larva going for my ear. Now, I will be the first to say that teachers are important, without teachers the students wouldn’t have a chance of learning as much as they do on a daily basis. However, for too long now we have put the teachers first.
Seriously… What does this mean?
This means that I have sat in meetings where teachers have complained about not wanting to do more work (regardless that the outcome would mean helping a child learn). I have witnessed administrators afraid to make a change that they know will benefit the students because they fear a negative reaction from the faculty. I’ve read the articles and positions where teachers state that they are underpaid, undervalued, overworked, etc. But this is nothing new. I’ve yet to meet a US teacher who went into the profession thinking they’d make millions of dollars and become a superstar that the whole nation wants to meet. Its time we put on our reality caps. Teachers are vital, but for too long teachers have been fighting to put teachers first. We have all paid the price.
I mean no disrespect to my colleagues, but when we start talking about making changes and the majority of the responses we receive are “its too much work”, “I don’t have enough time”, “I’ve been teaching this for 20 years and I’m not going to change”, “This is just another version of XYZ that we did in the 80s, 90s, etc.” I’m sorry but I must honestly ask… why are you in this profession if those are your responses?
I will readily admit that I will always put students first. I’m sorry teachers, but you’ve had your turn at the front of the line and now its time to step aside and let the students take their turn. Teachers, for the most part, have large unions, organizations, etc. that protect their interests… what do students have?
I will put the students first, and I’m sorry to say it but… teachers, you may even come in 2nd or 3rd. I will always support you. I will always do everything I can to make your job easier, however it will never be at the cost of helping a child learn. I recall one meeting where a teacher responded to a new initiative stating, “Its just one more thing we have to do”. I responded with, “I don’t care if you have to do 1,000 more things, if it helps one child learn you’re going to do it.” The truth is, you have a choice to work in the environment that puts students first or teachers first and if it is my school, it will always be the students.
It is time we realize that our job is one of sacrifice, of service, and that we stop complaining about it.
Remember, you can’t put students first if the teachers are pushing them out of the way to get to the front of the line.
I’m interested in your thoughts on this topic. I know I’m in the minority here as I’ve seen tons of these images on the Internet and not one comment to challenge it, but I’d like to know that I’m not necessarily alone in this. Dig deep my friends and I think you’ll see that we have had our time at the front of the line… lets actually give that place to those who don’t have a choice in attending school for 8 hours a day. For a change, lets give the utmost priority to the students and stop fighting change that is designed to help them only because it makes us uncomfortable.