Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Teachers deserve a raise and respect


A recent editorial by the Idaho Mountain Express (May 11) was not only written as a poor analogy of the negotiations outcome with the School District, but also shows the indifference and naiveté of the Express editorial board (and perhaps the public) when it comes to the scope of the profession in today's world.

After a serious accident last month, I was required on an insurance claim to submit an itemized daily and weekly number of hours performing my position as a teacher. While I knew I spent considerable time working a five-day week, I didn't realize the average was 60 hours. And this figure did not include meeting with students at the public library, at Hailey Coffee Co., or even at my home for individual extra help on weekends. In addition, there's the occasional home visit with parents so they can learn how to optimize any study time that should occur there.

A teacher's day is not only filled with classroom instruction, grading/record keeping, preparation and meetings/communications with staff, departments, counselors and parents, but, most importantly, focusing on each child and how to shape the demands of the curriculum to his or her best learning needs; in other words, how to provide success for all. Often this means working one-on-one before school, during lunch and after school. The real job requires time for continued diagnosis, reassessment, reflection and redesign, as well as constant interaction—how can I best reach and bring out the quiet one in the corner?

Unfortunately, in the eyes of many people, teaching is an 8-to-4 job with summers off and extended holidays throughout the school year. Quite the contrary. As soon as school is out, I'm usually off to Boise for a week to serve on the Idaho state curriculum committee, working to review textbooks and various instructional materials for state adoption for Idaho schools. If I'm not taking official university classes or School District workshops to further my competence in my profession, I am working at home or with colleagues to improve upon what I did the previous year or creating lessons for a new class that I will be teaching soon. This requires studying my professional journals and a deep reading of other scholarly publications. These summer professional-development activities are, of course, interspersed with much-deserved family time and personal enjoyments.

Teaching is a profession that merits the respect and support of the members of our community. In my numerous years of working in Blaine County, there has never been a time when a salary increase has been more justified. For the two previous years, teachers did not receive any increase in pay, and yet the cost of living continues to rise.

Teachers are indeed worthy of the 2011 negotiations outcomes.

Darlene Dyer teaches English at Wood River High School.

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