PANTHER PRESS: Doing more with less

These last few weeks have been a difficult time to be an educator in the state of Michigan. Nightly television newscasts have reported crisis after crisis in district after district. Newspaper headlines echo the grim news-schools must do more with less.

All these budget cuts come at a time when teachers are already faced with increased responsibilities. This past week, I spent a day working with area principals and teacher leaders working on a plan to roll out new common core state standards for curriculum. Michigan, along with approximately 40 other states, has recently adopted new curriculum expectations at each grade level. Teachers must incorporate these new standards while still covering the old content expectations. More with less.

In addition, Michigan has announced that the MEAP scores will be readjusted to help students be more prepared for college. With the increased emphasis on these mandated tests, comes increased stress. Teachers must reevaluate their methods, adjust their content, and increase assessments. The stress and increased expectations can be overwhelming. We are people working with people. Our “product” has many variables of which we have little or no control- that affect the outcome. Working with people is much more complicated than bending metal or packing boxes! More with less.

How do we do more with less?

Now, more than ever, we must work as a team. Teachers cannot work in isolation. Professional educators and parents need to realize that we have the same dreams and aspirations. We are on the same team working for the benefit of our students.

Ironically, this past week was also Teacher Appreciation Week. How many of us stopped to thank our teachers for their efforts? I see teachers hauling out bags of papers every night to go over at home, I see them working in their classrooms late at night and on weekends, I see the concern when a student isn’t making expected progress, I sit in meeting after meeting with teachers trying to reach struggling students, I see the boxes of items coming in (purchased with their own money) to cover the extras that the budget can’t cover, and I see the stress when their efforts are dismissed or criticized. I also see tears of joy when a student finally gets it, and pride when goals are accomplished.

I don’t know a single teacher who chose this profession for the money. Teaching is a calling. We do it because we love children and want to inspire others. We do it to touch the future. We do it because we love learning. We do it because we are pulled by our heart to help others.

These people are working for you-to help your children! Acknowledge their efforts, understand their frustration, and offer your support. Take a minute to say thank you and to ask what you can do to help. In the end, we are teammates working toward a common goal. Mutual appreciation will do more to help our students than criticism or dollar bills!

Working together, we can do more with less!