Opinion
Education Opinion

Two Weeks to Admit Teaching Is Hard

By Walt Gardner — August 10, 2015 1 min read

I’ve frequently maintained that reformers who are quick to criticize teachers have no idea how hard it is to teach K-12. Two professors from Sarah Lawrence College made my point after spending two weeks teaching at Yonkers Middle High School in Yonkers, N.Y. (“We Taught Summer School-and Survived,” The Wall Street Journal, Aug. 7).

What is notable, however, is that they felt drained after only two weeks teaching “environmental writing.” I wonder how they would feel if they had to teach four more subjects each day for an entire school year? Let’s not forget that a typical teaching assignment involves different lesson plans because few, if any, teachers get to teach five classes of the same subject each day.

The experience of the two professors, Marek Fuchs and Linwood Lewis, also underscores the importance of pedagogy. Despite their advanced degrees in their respective subject fields, they found themselves “in serious trouble.” How could they not? It’s one thing to possess subject matter expertise and quite another to know how to teach it. They quickly learned that telling is not teaching. They also found out in short order the need to improvise as their students’ reactions changed.

Public schools cannot selectively enroll whom they wish. By law they have to take all who show up at the schoolhouse door. As a result, the range of abilities is huge. A lesson plan that works beautifully with one class can easily be a disaster with another. Veteran teachers know that it takes only one miscreant who is bored or upset to hold an entire class hostage.

Despite the proessors’ revelations, however, I doubt the drumbeat of criticism of public schools will abate. There is simply too much political capital to gain by persisting in the attack on teachers. But I give scant weight to reformers who have not taught in a public school. Fuchs and Lewis now know what I’m talking about.

The opinions expressed in Walt Gardner’s Reality Check are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Future of Work Webinar
Digital Literacy Strategies to Promote Equity
Our new world has only increased our students’ dependence on technology. This makes digital literacy no longer a “nice to have” but a “need to have.” How do we ensure that every student can navigate
Content provided by Learning.com
Mathematics Online Summit Teaching Math in a Pandemic
Attend this online summit to ask questions about how COVID-19 has affected achievement, instruction, assessment, and engagement in math.
School & District Management Webinar Examining the Evidence: Catching Kids Up at a Distance
As districts, schools, and families navigate a new normal following the abrupt end of in-person schooling this spring, students’ learning opportunities vary enormously across the nation. Access to devices and broadband internet and a secure

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Speech Therapists
Lancaster, PA, US
Lancaster Lebanon IU 13
Elementary Teacher
Madison, Wisconsin
One City Schools

Read Next

Education Obituary In Memory of Michele Molnar, EdWeek Market Brief Writer and Editor
EdWeek Market Brief Associate Editor Michele Molnar, who was instrumental in launching the publication, succumbed to cancer.
5 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: December 9, 2020
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: Stories You May Have Missed
A collection of articles from the previous week that you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: Stories You May Have Missed
A collection of stories from the previous week that you may have missed.
8 min read