Thursday, May 5, 2011

Spring Time and Some Things Never Change

Every educator knows that spring brings with it a whole set of challenges that never change and that are consistent from school to school. Those of us who have had the experience of teaching and administrating in middle and high schools, know all too well about senior skip days, receding skirt lines, dropping necklines, and students absconding beyond the boundaries of the campus. For those with a metaphorical flare, Spring is truly a time of renewal. For those of us in the front lines in schools, Spring is a time of renewal too. We renew those battles against inappropriate dress. We fight anew the wars against class skipping. And, we tackle the problems of public displays of affection, whose numbers seem to rise with the outdoor North Carolina temperatures.

In an era when the political game seems to be "taking pock-shots" at public schools and bemoaning falling test scores as the end of American civilization as we know it, it would be easy to say, "Why bother?" Why do we bother fighting the Wars of Inappropriate Dress each year, when it always seems to be the same student dressed inappropriately the next day? Why do we bother chasing down those students who opt for soda and bag of chips at a nearby store instead of their normal diet of polynomials in math class? And, why do we tell two students who are displaying their affection for one another in a manner that would cause their parents to blush to cease their amorous activities? One answer is simple. We deal with these because they are against the rules and also out of our desire to teach them the rules of proper decor and manners. Chances are, we also deal with these springtime problems because there's a policy telling us we have to do so. But most importantly, we deal with these springtime student problems because we care about our students. We renew these springtime struggles because we want our students to be successful and be just plain decent people.

In all our talk about 21st century education, it is so easy to get caught up in the rhetoric of reform and forget that we work with kids. Add all these battles with springtime behavior, and it is quite easy to forget our purpose.  Our schools exist for our kids, and the reason I do what I do is not fore pay, but because I love working with and for kids. It’s that simple.

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