As a teacher I always think of the year as being July 1 to June 30. So it’s time to reflect on the past year. The first year in well over thirty years that I did not spend in a high school classroom.
I have to ponder why I left the high school classroom (for now). I guess the first reason being the Vermont Department of Education. I mean years and years ago we went to a 1-4 system calibrating students’ work, it failed and now we are going back to it. Forced consolidation of districts that do not make any sense like Rutland Town and Poultney, yeah they are close in both demographics, size and location. Everyday math, Chicago Math, Singapore Math and Common Core, just keep changing the curriculum so there is no consistency.
Teach history in the elementary schools — no don’t teach it there, expose students to them in high school, no wait let’s teach it in English class. Cursive writing, who needs that, oh you can’t print your name on a legal document? Everyone needs to go or at least apply to college — wait no plumbers around? Then there are certain districts that say do not build relationships, don’t get too close to them, I mean why get to know your students. Then of course there is the allusive students not participating or being allowed to participate in activities including sports.
If I were King or at least Secretary of Education here’s how my schools would work. Let’s go back to some of the basics before we teach the advanced: Times tables, American Revolution, cursive writing, Robert Frost, and Newton’s Laws. It’s time we encourage kids for all careers including those in the trades. Most plumbers were making more than me as a teacher.
Build positive relationships with students, know why they are having a bad day, maybe it’s because there is no food in the house; or grandma, whom they live with, is in the hospital; or that at 15 they are couch surfing because mom or dad is in jail. Ask yourself who will be going on to the NBA, NFL, win a Tony, Emmy or Oscar. Give all kids a chance to play, what a way to build character in students: Support them in their passions. When this occurs, C will be back in the classroom.
Hurley Cavacas is a Rutland resident and member of the Rutland City Public Schools Board of Commissioners.