As teachers ready themselves for the start of another school year, it seems appropriate to spend some time reflecting on professional responsibilities. Usually I read the list of responsibilities for teachers published by the National Popular Education Board in 1872. It’s amusing to see how much things have changed in the last one hundred and forty years. Here’s the list:
- Teachers each day will fill lamps, clean chimneys.
- Each teacher will bring a bucket of water and a scuttle of coal for the day’s session.
- Make your pens carefully. You may whittle nibs to the individual taste of the pupils.
- Men teachers may take one evening each week for courting purposes, or two evenings a week if they go to church regularly.
- After ten hours in school, the teachers may spend the remaining time reading the Bible or other good books.
- Women teachers who marry or engage in unseemly conduct will be dismissed.
- Every teacher should lay aside from each pay a goodly sum of his earnings for his benefit during his declining years so that he will not become a burden on society.
- Any teacher who smokes, uses liquor in any form, frequents pool or public halls, or gets shaved in a barber shop will give good reason to suspect his worth, intention, integrity and honesty.
- The teacher who performs his labor faithfully and without fault for five years will be given an increase of twenty-five cents per week in his pay, providing the Board of Education approves.
Before you go back to school this fall, view this fabulous two-minute YouTube video entitled “Great Teachers Inspire.”
The recent shootings of African Americans Alton Sterling in Louisiana and Philando Castile in Minnesota, and the sniper attack in Dallas that left five white police officers slain, have resulted in a wave of nationwide protests, demands for stronger protections against officers who misuse the authority of their badge, and an ongoing discussion about race relations in America. To respond to these current events, there may be classroom teachers all over the country looking for suitable instructional resources to address these topics with their students. The Southern Poverty Law Center, long known as an organization that fights racism on all levels, has created a collection of materials that are available for free. These resources may empower students to work towards constructive changes that may help to create a more just society. To access the resources, simply on this link: Teaching About Race, Racism, and Police Violence.
Here’s an absolutely inspirational You Tube video that shows how one amazing chalkboard champion created a second amazing chalkboard champion. You just have to see this!
Here’s a great book for anyone who is interested in progressive education or pluralism in education: Leonard Covello and the making of Benjamin Franklin High School: Education as if Citizenship Mattered. The authors are Michael C. Johanek and John L. Puckett.
Leonard Covello came to the United States in 1896 as a nine-year-old Italian immigrant. Despite immense cultural and economic pressures at home, Leonard wanted to get an education. As an adult, he analyzed the cultural and economic pressures he faced as a child and teen, which were common in Italian immigrant households at that time. He realized that Italian parents viewed the school as a wedge between their children and the family. He recognized the pressure even the youngest Italian children faced to go out and get a job rather than succeed in school. His answer? Involve the parents in the school, and involve the students in the community. The result was New York’s Benjamin Franklin High School, a truly innovative marriage of school and home. Lots of lessons in this story are relevant even in today’s times, especially for school personnel who are clamoring for more involvement from parents in the school system.