Before Santa arrives in a couple of days, I am sending him the following Christmas Wish Lists. I hope his sleigh is not too overloaded to at least squeeze in a few of these Holiday wishes. Regardless, all of us need to be thankful for the many blessings we already have, and rejoice with the opportunity a new year brings to dream of the possibility of better days ahead.
Christmas Wish Lists:
Teachers’ Christmas Wish List for State Legislators:
- SUPPORT AND RESPECT FOR TEACHERS: Teachers desperately need – Mississippi desperately needs – a year where state legislators support teachers and public school education instead of putting both at the top of their hit list;
- ADEQUATELY FUND PUBLIC EDUCATION: After the heated battle and close defeat of Initiative 42, teachers need a sign from state legislators that they care about teachers and public education. Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves said after the defeat of Imitative 42 that teachers are not the Legislature’s enemy, and he called for a time of reassurance and healing. Did he mean what he said? Finding a way to increase public school funding would certainly serve as evidence that he was serious and not just spouting more political rhetoric;
- TRUST OF TEACHERS: Teachers need to be heard! Hopefully, 2016 will be the year state legislators treat teachers as trusted professionals and listen to their views on education as closely as they listen to the views of non-educators in the public;
- IMPARTIAL/FAIR DECISION MAKING: To be fair and impartial, state or Federal legislators who send their children to private schools should not be allowed to have a voice in the public school discussion. Their choice to send their children to private schools shows a lack of commitment to resolving public education issues in favor of deserting the ship completely. Their choice also represents a potential conflict of interest that is compounded by a conscious or unconscious bias toward public education;
- ACCOUNTABILITY EQUITY: If teachers are to be held accountable for the success of students in the classroom, state legislators should be held accountable for providing the resources and support teachers need to do their job, and parents should be held accountable for providing support and a learning environment in the home. It is time we embrace the fact that when schools fail, it is a collaborative effort by teachers, parents, students, legislators, universities, and even society. To correct the inadequacies in public school education, we must first recognize that we are dealing with a widespread human epidemic and not just an incompetent teacher problem.
Teachers’ Christmas Wish List for Parents:
- BE POSITIVE ABOUT SCHOOL: At home, parents should be positive about school. If they speak negatively about school and teachers at the dinner table, their child will carry that negativity to school;
- BE THERE FOR CHILDREN: The most positive and lasting imprint on children is a parent who is always there for them. Children do not need parents who make excuses for them. They need parents who are adults and not best friends. They need parents who hold them accountable for their actions. They need parents who understand that today’s excuses may be crippling their child’s future;
- MODEL LEARNING IN THE HOME: Parents need to turn off the television and let their children see them read a book! Parents need to take their children to something other than a ball game or the movie. They need to visit a museum, an art gallery, or hike a trail with their children. Parents need to make learning an active part of the home;
- TRAIN CHILDREN EARLY: Parents should train children from an early age to get up and go to school. They should train their children to be on time to school. If such simple training does not exist in a child’s early life, the consequences could impair their ability to maintain a job and make a living for themselves and their family later in life; and
- MUTUAL RESPECT: Nothing positive is ever accomplished through yelling and abusive language. In today’s world, both teachers and parents have a difficult job, and the only way to make it less difficult is for teachers and parents to work together. The primary function of a teacher and a parent is to build a better human being, and that can only be accomplished through mutual respect between teachers and parents and love for the child.
Students’ Christmas Wish List for Teachers:
[Note: These are actual student wishes I collected over my years in education.]
- GET RID OF TIME WASTERS: I once asked a group of high school students the following question, “What is one thing you would tell your teachers they could do to improve your classroom experience?” Their number one response was “Quit wasting my time!” They told me teachers should get rid of time wasters such as worksheets, classwork and homework that are rarely discussed, quiet time in class, free time in class, and boring movies that sometimes go on for two or three days. They said they hated assignments that were obviously given for no other purpose but to keep students busy and quiet;
- THE TEACHER’S UNDIVIDED PRESENCE: Students want teachers to act like they want to be a teacher! They do not respect teachers who through action or words make it known that they are a teacher only until they find something better to do. Kids know when teachers would rather be somewhere else;
- CONSISTENCY IN THE CLASSROOM: When it comes to discipline, students want teachers to be consistent and fair. Teachers should not write a student up today for something they let the student get away with yesterday. If it wasn’t bad enough for the student to be written up and sent to the office Monday, the same behavior shouldn’t be bad enough to write up and send the student to the office Tuesday;
- RESPECT FOR ALL STUDENTS: Students want teachers to respect them for who they are – not who the teacher wants them to be; and
- CHALLENGE ME: Students, especially high school students, want teachers to make their time in class worthwhile! Don’t just give them information; teach them to apply and use the information. Teach them how to learn!
Parents Christmas Wish List for Teachers and State Legislators:
- TEACHERS: Treat my child like you would treat your child in your classroom;
- TEACHERS: Communicate with me regularly. Please call me! While email is a convenient means of communicating, it is also the most impersonal form of communication. Keep me informed!
- TEACHERS: Treat me with the same respect you expect me to treat you! Don’t talk down to me because you think I am uneducated or a poor parent;
- LEGISLATORS: Quit pointing fingers of blame at teachers and parents! Quit talking, listen, and put money for education where your mouth is!
- LEGISLATORS: Model accountability! Be as accountable for your actions as you want teachers and parents to be.
Legislators’ Christmas Wish List for Teachers and Parents:
SORRY, but for the life of me, I cannot figure out what our state legislators really want! Lately, it seems the only thing they want or need is our vote. Once they have that, they pretty much write their own wish list and do as they please.
Oops! That was certainly not in the Christmas spirit, but maybe by this time next year things will be different and more positive between educators and state legislators. At least that is my Christmas wish.
I hope each of you (yes, even state legislators) has a Merry Christmas and a joyous New Year wrapped in all of God’s blessings! Until 2016, this is JL signing off.
©Jack Linton, PhD December 22, 2015