A little background: We started the Voices columnist program in 2003 with six volunteers. The second time we called for volunteers, a high school student applied. That got us thinking ... and so we started Classroom Voices, and included students. We quickly then added Teacher Voices, and there you have it. Now, almost 10 years later, we have had more than 500 volunteer columnists, including some of the best teachers and most gifted and interesting students in North Texas. Today, several of them will be joining us to chat on this topic.
by Michael Landauer 11/20/2012 9:01:20 PM
In case you missed it, here's the Student Voices column that was one of the reasons we decided to have this chat: Michelle Pitcher: Bring some life back to the lesson plan
by Michael Landauer 11/20/2012 9:05:15 PM
And here's the Community Voices column that also ran on Saturday: Judy Gaman: Don’t rescue kids from bad teachers
by Michael Landauer 11/20/2012 9:06:02 PM
And here's a column that ran a few weeks ago that is also related to the topic of bad teachers ... or at least teachers who some parents insist are "bad" ... Nancy Rosenberg: Bad school or bad attitude?
by Michael Landauer 11/20/2012 9:07:27 PM
One of our Teacher Voices (and certainly not one of the bad teachers kids complain about): Fifth grade bilingual teacher, Norma Urban Palomarez, 53, of Flower Mound, cleans the fish tank she uses in her classroom at Lewisville Elementary School. Photo: Stewart F. House/Special Contributor
by Michael Landauer 11/20/2012 9:54:48 PM
OK, let's get started. I hope everyone had a chance to read the columns this weekend. We got a lot of reaction to the student column. (We don't print student email addresses, so they come to us.)
by Michael Landauer 11/20/2012 10:02:54 PM
Most of it was positive, but here was one of the more thought-provoking: I would like to ask her to do the following: Take the time, in your own classroom, to study your fellow students and then try to answer the following questions. How many of them have the same enthusiasm for learning that you do? How many of them are only there because they are required by law to be there or because they know they can't go on to college without having a high school diploma? How many of them only go through the motions of learning while complaining about not getting the grade they think they deserve and then blame the teacher, or the school, or anyone else other than themselves for their own lack of enthusiasm? How many will go home and complain to parents, who are all too willing to blame someone other than their child, that the teachers or the schools or both are unable to motivate them?
by The Dallas Morning News 11/20/2012 10:04:49 PM
Thank you very much Ms. Whitman! And yes, there were several readers who suggested a two-sided problem. I'll admit, at the time I wrote this column, I was in a post-Dead Poets Society-misty-eyed stupor. But LeRoy White (adjunct instructor in community colleges and four year colleges) asked me to look around at my fellow students’ faces next time I’m sitting in class to see how many of us were actually engaged. Your answer, Mr. White, is very few. But rather than accepting this as a two-sided problem, an “Us v. Them” situation, we can take into account that perhaps if teachers were more engaging on a personal level, students would be more inclined to listen. Maybe a connection would actually aid the students in learning the subject material.
by Michelle Pitcher 11/20/2012 10:07:10 PM
That teacher's response continues, and echos a bit of what Evan is saying. He wants Michelle to humanize her teachers a bit more: "Most of all, think about the teacher as a fellow human being and not some super being who can move mountains or jump over buildings in a single bound. They may not be perfect but they have opted to tackle one of the most responsible and difficult jobs in our society today and many times are not fully compensated for it regardless of the kind of job they are doing to say nothing of those few who ended up in the field of education because they failed in another field of study.. Remember that the teacher is trying to balance the requirements of two, sometimes completely opposite, sides, the student and the administration, and many times, a third party gets involved, the parent, when the parent is only are trying to protect his or her child and probably really has little knowledge of what is actually going on in the classroom."
by The Dallas Morning News 11/20/2012 10:07:45 PM
Michelle, maybe this is unfair, since you attend a very highly regarded school, but what percentage of the teachers in your school, would you say, are GREAT, average and ... blah?
by The Dallas Morning News 11/20/2012 10:08:34 PM
Mr. Bybee has a point. He also happened to be my 9th grade English teacher. And for the sake of clarification, and to address his point that we tend to forget the good teachers of the past, he was a very good teacher. He addressed life and the non-existent "real world." And he never accepted anyone's excuses.
by Michelle Pitcher 11/20/2012 10:10:42 PM
Let's do this. Let's go one by one and talk about how well each group is doing. Let's start with Students themselves. Think in terms of change only. Are they more likely today or less likely today to be engaged in learning? Are they more or less likely today to criticize and blame teachers for their own unhappiness at school?
by Michael Landauer 11/20/2012 10:10:53 PM