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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.

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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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