Letters to the Editor
What could be more interesting to a teacher than reading about a
teacher who is unresponsive and insensitive, "killing a poet'' who
might be musing on her own mortality? But all is not lost because this
fledging poet has a mother, also a teacher, and she is all the good
things her daughter's teacher is not. As a fair-to-middling teacher, I
can only guess what a burden it must be to be as wonderful as
Harvey-Ann Ross is and to have the heavy responsibility of being a role
model for all the other less-than-wonderful teachers like me. Charles
Your article on stress ["Stressed Out,'' January] was much like many
others I've read on the clinical and textbook definitions of stress.
All are good and true, but they were not able to help me. Four years
ago, I was a completely burned-out teacher. In January 1987, I had just
about hit bottom. But I got professional help and slowly began to work
my way back. I had to identify the feelings that were causing me
stress, take charge of my life, and stop expecting someone to rescue
me. I also had to stop doing too many things and being in too many
places at once. This meant understanding why I wanted to do it all, and
then simply saying "no.'' I have also learned not to react to student
misbehavior with outrage but to calmly state what is unacceptable and
what the consequences of misbehavior will be. Most importantly, I have
learned that I have to take time to listen to my feelings and identify
them. When I'm stressed, it usually means I am denying a feeling. I
cannot keep going 90 mph all the time. Today, I am effectively teaching
more students than ever and feel productive and happy in my work.
Everything is not perfect, but I have learned a way to live with life's
East Junior High School
Ponca City, Okla.
On behalf of our board of directors, I applaud your special
technology section ["Teaching With Technology,'' January]. It
articulates very well the need to integrate technology into classrooms
across the nation. Please let your readers know about our organization,
the Technology Student Association. We are a national organization for
students. Since 1978, we have grown to 75,000 secondary and elementary
students in 1,500 programs spanning 43 states. The annual dues are $4.
The TSA also includes educators, parents, and business leaders who
believe in the need for a technologically literate society. Our
address: TSA, 1914 Association Drive, Reston, VA 22091; (703) 860-9000.
Technology Student Association
Kudos to you on the computer articles! I've ordered a number of computer items advertised and written about in Teacher Magazine. Most have been fantastic. However, as tax time comes, readers need to be reminded that generally the purchase of computers and software by teachers is not deductible. In fact, the Internal Revenue Service has informed us that the purchase of books, videotapes, and so on by teachers is also nondeductible. (I bet my subscription to Teacher Magazine will be ruled nondeductible, too.) The IRS rationale is simple: School districts provide all of these things for teachers, so there is no reason for teachers to purchase such "luxury'' items on their own. Ric Loya
Huntington Park High School
Huntington Park, Calif.
Editor's Note: According to the IRS, subscriptions to professional journals and trade magazines related to work may be claimed as a miscellaneous tax deduction on federal income tax returns.
Thank you for your excellent January special section, but please answer this question: Where can I go to be trained to use technology in my classroom? It amazes me how little I hear from institutes or schools on the availability of seminars, workshops, etc. I'm willing to be trained.
Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools
The author of "How To Buy A Computer'' ["Teaching With Technology,'' January] needs to do his homework better. He says you cannot run Mac software on an Amiga, but this isn't true. A-MAX not only runs Mac software but also runs it faster than a plain Mac, thanks to the Amiga's graphics chips, which take the burden off the main processor. With one of the various add-ons, you can also run MS-DOS programs.
It's a pity that your magazine, which has found its way into classrooms around the country and is read by teachers, dealt with technology so superficially in its recent issue. The true value of technology is not as a teaching tool but as a learning environment for students. Why are teachers in central positions or alone in all your photographs? Why do you emphasize the position and involvement of the teacher all the time? If technology is to serve any purpose at all, it must change the role of the teacher from an information provider to a learning facilitator and information guide.
Center for Information Systems and Research
Yorktown Heights, N.Y.
I read your recent issue on technology and was surprised by the
uniformly enthusiastic tone of all the articles. I was even more
surprised by the total absence of any discussion of the health hazards
of computer usage. In particular, I was astonished to find a
description of model computer labs "with PCs lined up back to back like
tightly packed rows of corn.'' From a health point of view, this is the
worst way to line up computers. I urge you to run an article on the
risks facing people in schools as a result of the rush to technology.
It is essential that educators be sensitive to environmental health in
their own schools.
Point Arena, Calif.
I definitely related to Jeffrey Wells' article ["Jumping Through
Hoops,'' November/December]. I graduated two years ago and am currently
suffering through substitute teaching while seeking permanent
employment. I graduated summa cum laude and was considered an excellent
student teacher. I have applied to 35 school districts and had only
three interviews. I saw wives and daughters of school district
employees get jobs that I was passed over for. Districts also don't
seem to want anyone my age (I'm over 30). Discouraged? Yes. Thinking of
leaving the field? Yes. Let's begin to clean up the system. Lynn
North Babylon, N.Y.
Reading Jeffrey Wells' article brought back not-so-fond memories of my quest for employment after graduation in 1988. I began college under the impression that Pennsylvania was in dire need of chemistry teachers. I was a recipient of the Pennsylvania Scholars in Education Award designed to attract top students to math and science teaching. I thought finding a job after graduation would be no problem. I was awakened to the reality in my senior year. I applied for six jobs but only heard from one district, which sent me a rejection letter. I called the others and was told that the position was filled or that there had never been a position in the first place.
At the beginning of August, I began weighing other alternatives. Then, two weeks before school was to start, one of the districts with a "filled'' slot called. I got the job and began to teach a new course with no textbook or materials.
When I read about education reform, I wonder if any of it is
worthwhile as long as the hiring process remains so political and
mysterious. Articles about teacher shortages in Pennsylvania are
starting to appear again. I wonder how many college students will be
fooled they way I was.
Your article on Howard Middle School in Ocala, Fla., ["Rebirth,''
October] truly changed lives. The school has received more than 70
calls from around the nation, and about 30 groups have either visited
or asked for details about the project. Thanks for what you've done for
the hardworking people at Howard. Gloria Houston
Visiting Assistant Professor
Department of Childhood
College of Education
University of South Florida
Editor's Note: Houston helped restructure Howard Middle School's language-arts curriculum.
A Few Good Men
I appreciated your article about the reasons why men don't want to teach preschool or the early grades ["Looking For A Few Good Men,'' November/ December]. After 13 years teaching preschool and elementary school, I have discovered another important factor: the desire to get married. One would think that women would understand teaching better than men, but I have not found that to be the case. Most think I "play with kids'' for a living. Last month, a woman said, "Really? Oh, how sweet,'' when I told her I taught 2nd grade. Would an engineer have this problem?
Name withheld on request
Scotts Valley, Calif.