Teacher Morale and Attitude
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Teachers live in an environment with a lot of emotions (children's,
parents', and perhaps their administrators')! I believe most teachers
started their career with enthusiasm and energy to spare. I will bet
that every teacher spends their personal money for things for their
classroom. Teachers often start a new year with hope for improvement.
They give new practices a try. They join committees intended to make
improvements. But as the year wears on, frequently hope withers and
teachers look to just get through the year. I will bet that every
teacher has felt the failure of not getting some students to achieve,
and those failures hurt the teacher personally. I will bet that every
teacher has been lied to by students, parents and administrators during
their career. In fact, if they noted down every incident where they
believe lying happened, we might be very depressed by the frequency. I
will bet that every teacher feels unjustly condemned (without
opportunity to defend) a number of times each school year. I will bet
that every teacher has many experiences when their best judgment for
students and teaching was arbitrarily squelched. I believe that the
number of negative experiences for teachers is greater than the vast
majority of us experience in our jobs.
What would you feel in such a job? My answer would be angry until I was
numb and stopped caring. I would become helpless and hopeless. I might
adopt a protect myself at all costs attitude. I might manipulate the
system and people to get what I want.
How common does the voter think these teacher attitudes are? I would
guess voters would say more than 50% of the time. Are the voters right?
I believe so.
Will such an attitude improve student achievement?
What can any of us do to change it?
I think it will take changes inside ourselves that affect our actions in
ways we haven't been willing to make. We have to think more about all
people in the schools, cool our own angers, frankly expect honesty from
ourselves, and sacrifice time, effort, and resources for the schools.
The "we" here is parents/voters, teachers, school leaders, and students.
Perhaps we need to think of this challenge as "the moral equivalent of war".
by Allen Wilkinson, Cleveland Heights