A nod and a hug to the teachers

Having just spent this past weekend with a whole passel of my favorite people, who also just happen to be teachers, I’ve been thinking a lot about the profession. My best friend is one of those rare breeds who actually loves teaching and can see herself doing nothing else. She once tried another career, only to return to the ranks of educators.

And this, her assured ticket into heaven, she teaches high school.

Over drinks and Navajo Tacos on the back patio, I heard her and many of our friends talk about their preparations to return to the classroom this Thursday to welcome students next week.

My friend teaches English, mostly, but also other topics. She spent her summer reading a list of books trying to find some modern American fiction to teach this year. See, she and her fellow teachers realize that teaching the “dead white guys”, while easy (because it’s been done so many times, teaching by rote is what it becomes), wasn’t igniting the minds of their students.

One of our friends said, “I want to make my kids lifelong readers. I don’t want to be that teacher that turned a student off reading for life”. I wanted to kiss her feet, hug her tight and weep a little.

We talked about current fiction, books that hold their own, have something to say, that will be fascinating for kids to read, and thus fire up their kids. It was a long hard battle to be able to teach, “Bless me Ultima” in the classroom…but it’s working. And when kids *want* to read, then learn, they become smarter, they help themselves.

So it was timely to read Jim Belshaw’s column in the Sunday ABQjournal. If you didn’t see it, take a look at “A Few Pointers For New Teachers” for a good chuckle. It’s a list of pointers from a fourth grade teacher.

My everlasting thanks to all the teachers who can do what I cannot….deal with snotty kids. And a special thanks to those teachers who actually, honestly care about doing a good job. You are amazing.

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