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Thursday, August 22, 2013

Thoughts From A Former Teacher As School Year Begins

Jeremy Glazer is a former high school teacher in Miami, Florida. (WLRN)

Jeremy Glazer is a former high school teacher in Miami, Florida. (WLRN)

Teaching is the hardest job I’ve ever had.

In the midst of all the talk about schools and education policy, ultimately the classroom doors close and we, the teachers, are the ones in there with the children. We are the ones who think every day about those kids for the whole school year, and for years after.

I remember Catherine, the first student who ever walked into a classroom that was mine, seventeen years ago. I remember Ashley, who used to drive his desk around until I had an epiphany and told him to park, and he did. I remember Elvia, who wrote in one of her stories that “the trees were sprayed with the scent of wonderful.” I remember Anna, who told me everything that was wrong with her teachers, and what I needed to do right. I remember Max reading Shakespeare with a voice like Olivier. I remember Denver, who died, shot while he was skipping my class.

They are all in my head and, if I did my job, I’m in theirs.

We, the teachers, take your children and try to help them become caring, inquisitive, interested, and interesting people. Our classrooms are places where learning can happen. But they can’t be the only place learning happens, and we cannot do it alone.

We need your help.

We need you to remember that we are all in this together.

The schools we create, the children we nurture, belong to all of us, for better and for worse.

If a child can’t read well, don’t just blame the teachers. Help us surround her with books and with readers.

If a child can’t do math, don’t just blame the teachers. Help us introduce him to the music of numbers.

And please, help us teach your children to think critically by thinking critically yourself.

Think critically about how important our schools are. Think critically about the many good schools we have, and the good schools we need. And then, think critically about what you can do to help us get them.

There are no quick, easy answers. Ignore anyone who tells you that there are. Good education takes time, and resources, and commitment. We must be willing to contribute all of those things if we want the schools all of our children deserve.

About the Author

Transcript

JEREMY HOBSON, HOST:

While we're talking education, let's hear now from a teacher. As parents across the country send their children off to school, Jeremy Glazer, who's been a public school teacher in Florida, offers these thoughts and a bit of advice.

JEREMY GLAZER: Teaching is the hardest job I've ever had. In the midst of all the talk about schools and education policy, ultimately the classroom doors close and we, the teachers, are the ones in there with the children. We are the ones who think every day about those kids for the whole school year, and for years after.

I remember Catherine, the first student who ever walked into my classroom 17 years ago. I remember Ashley, who used to drive his desk around until I had an epiphany and told him to park, and he did. I remember Elvia, who wrote in a story, that trees were sprayed with the scent of wonderful. I remember Denver, who died, shot while he was skipping my class. They are all in my head, and if I did my job, I'm in theirs.

Our classrooms are places where learning can happen, where children can flourish. But they can't be the only place, and we cannot do it alone. We need your help. If a child can't read well, don't just blame the teachers. Help us surround her with books and with people who read. If a child can't do math, don't just blame the teachers. Help us introduce him to the music of numbers.

And please, help us teach your children to think critically by thinking critically yourself. There are no quick, easy answers. Ignore anyone who tells you that there are. Good education is time consuming and it is expensive, and it is what all our children deserve.

HOBSON: Jeremy Glazer taught public school in Florida. He came to us from HERE AND NOW contributing station WLRN in Miami.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MY OLD SCHOOL")

HOBSON: And we'd love to hear your thoughts on education or anything you hear on the program. You can go to hereandnow.org and click on Contact Us, or you can go to facebook.com/hereandnowradio. We are also on Twitter, @hereandnow. I am @jeremyhobson and Robin is @hereandnowrobin. Coming up, we'll take a listen to a new wave of New Orleans artists who are blending jazz, hip hop and rock. You're listening to HERE AND NOW. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


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Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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