Copyright © Louis Schmier and Atwood Publishing.

Date: Thu, 8 Aug 1996 06:28:04 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: A Random Thought: More "You Know...."

The clock says it's 5:05. I just came in from doing what seemed to be a five mile breast-stroke through the heavy and quiet darkness. The incessant, torrential rains of the stormy last few days have left the humidity at flood level. Even the mosquitoes have put on their water wings. As I wandered the quiet, wet streets, I found I had a few more "you knows" in me. I think they were brought to the surface as I started thinking about a dinner conversation I overheard last weekend between my beautiful wife and a dear friend, a teacher in the local school system, as the latter unloaded about the travails of the start-up of the coming school year. These are the "you knows" that randomly popped into my head as a slide along the asphalt:

You know: be a teacher is to assume the weighty responsibility of a herculean, heroic mission. It means helping awaken and keep awake the sleeping potential within each student, being involved in the vital and noble process of making and shaping other persons

....teachers are not some specially endowed herculean organism isolated from and free of the pressures and demands of the world and separated from humanity. They are frail, imperfect, vulnerable, noble human beings possessing dreams and nightmares, strengths and weaknesses, blessings and sins, courage and timidity, impartiality and biases, securities and insecurities, tolerations and prejudices, boundlessness and limitations just like the rest of us folk who should be treated and respected as the professionals and human beings they are.

....a teacher should be something of an optimist and idealist. The teacher does today for the unknown tomorrow, touches the future with his/her presence, works for horizons beyond his/her own vision, invites each student to reach toward unknown horizons

....maybe we should not and cannot expect and demand of teachers what we do not expect and demand of ourselves in our own personal lives and workplace;

....a teacher should inspire each student to move toward the expression of his/her own uniqueness, should stimulate the student to engage in his/her own groping, searching, living, thinking, growing, developing

....sometimes I get the feeling that all this emphasis on assessment and accountability is more about a lack of confidence, a lack of faith, in teachers than it is about what students have learned

....with all the different doors students walk through, with all the various types and amount of baggage they carry, with all the many confusing and often conflicting tongues parents, professionals, administrators, professional critics, legislators, bureaucrats, Board and Regents members, and others speak, is it fair to evaluate a teacher by a single set of numbers. It's certainly easier, but is it fair? Is it meaningful?

....when students sense that the teacher is in the "people business" instead of the "information business", that the teacher is in it for them and not for him- or herslef, that the teacher cares about them as people--is not just with their academic performance--they are more likely to see the teacher as a role model.

....the relationship between the teacher and student is critical to opening both the mind and the heart. Students seldom learn from a teacher they fear, don't respect, don't like or can't make a connection. Students seldom learn from teachers who don't respect them, don't like them, dominate them. It's no different in the relationship between teachers on one hand and all those others in society on the other.

....students who don't rise to our expectations are not bad students or bad persons and we shouldn't be disappointed or disgruntled merely because they have weaknesses and deficiencies. Is it any different with teachers?

....if you assume that each student is capable, valuable, and has potential, you will struggle to find ways to see to fulfill that prophecy; if we believe each student is able to learn and is worthy of respect, we will find ways--we will fight to find ways--to help them to succeed. Should we be any different with teachers?

Make it a good day.


Louis Schmier  (912-333-5947)
Department of History                      /~\    /\ /\
Valdosta State University          /^\    /   \  /  /~ \     /~\__/\
Valdosta, Georgia 31698           /   \__/     \/  /     /\ /~      \
                            /\/\-/ /^\___\______\_______/__/_______/^\
                          -_~     /  "If you want to climb mountains, \ /^\
                             _ _ /      don't practice on mole hills" -\____

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