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Ray Encouraged Teaching of Reading as Early as Possible
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I am married to a kindergarten teacher and I spent a lot of weekend time in her classroom helping her prepare for the next week, so I know a thing or two about what is effecting the school systems and teachers in general at the present time. Ray always said that reading must be taught in school as early as is possible. My wife gets children who are non-English speakers in September and has them reading and doing some math by the end of the kindergarten year, inspite of the new rules fostered on her by The No Child Left Behind Act. The poem below is a response to my feelings of frustration for her, and all other teachers, who are not recognized as professionals, but must now be told how to conduct their classes by administrators who have no investment in the results, other than saving face and their jobs, by raising test scores anyway they can.

Teacher, Dear Teacher

We live for you, we die for you,
Neighborhood Elementary School,
We slave each day, to show the way,
At Neighborhood Elementary School.

No child left behind, and yet we find,
No aide to help us in our task,
We used to teach and nurture kind,
Now we test and must teach too fast.

Still they come and mark us down,
For progress made against the grain,
The tests they say must carry the day,
Though we all suffer from the strain.

The norms and cums are all to them,
We can no longer teach love of school,
We must achieve or we’ll surely leave,
Neighborhood Elementary School.

T’wasn’t always so, there was a time,
When space was made for fun and play,
So kids would learn that they could shine,
Trying something new on each school day.

The work is hard, the pay seems fine,
‘Till amortized on hours spent,
Prepping, meetings, tests, and teaching too,
Twelve hours days just pay the rent.

No family life have we a ’tall,
We are professionals we give our all,
When they say jump, we ask how high,
With dreams of summer in the sky.

And when we die and take our rest,
They’ll plant a tree in our good name,
New kids will come and wonder why,
Who was the teacher now gone to sky?

Students, who spend your college years,
Searching for path to joy with tears,
Teaching career you will love so well,
Difference made, with pride you’ll swell.


You new teachers, think you twice on this,
The task is hard, the job can give you fits,
But if you will, then on you come,
To teach the kids, some smart, some dumb.

Admin will come and tell you how,
What through years of trial was ‘ready known,
Academia it must surely confound,
‘Takes love n sugar to help the medicine go down.

So now these many years have past,
We worked hard to make that difference clear,
We have touched some who grew in pride,
In success they carry us inside.

We live for you, but we won’t die for you,
Neighborhood Elementary School,
The kids are what we care about,
Neighborhood Elementary School.


- P. Trask 6/2005
- (tune - Oh Christmas Tree)
school Name changed to protect the innocent
 
Posts: 847 | Location: Laguna Hills, CA USA | Registered: 02 January 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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patrask, excellent. May I give a copy of your work to my sister, who's taught 3rd grade in a rural community since '79? Only to see her health insurance dwindle, and her retirement fund raided by governors of both parties? Teaching is an act of true heroism. Bless them all.
 
Posts: 195 | Location: Southern Illinois | Registered: 24 April 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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This was a great poem! I can relate to it in so many ways. I have been teaching for 26 years now, and I have seen so many changes, some for the better, but many making things worse. There is so much pressure on a daily basis, teaching is not nearly as much fun as it was when I first started. Back then, I was able to do many more fun projects--plays, learning centers, interactive units, field trips, etc. Although I am still able to do some of these activities today, we always rush through them with this horrid sense of urgency so we can get back to the "real curriculum" as quickly as possible. And at every teacher institute day the test scores are analyzed over and over, from every possible angle. Make no mistake--I have always felt hugely responsible for helping all my students improve their reading and writing skills. I know I have been given a sacred trust, and I never want to leave any child behind. But what's interesting is that in "the old days" my test scores were actually much higher, and I know I felt much closer to my students. I still have fun today, especially when I'm teaching Bradbury stories and books (see how I tied that in??), but it's not like it used to be.
 
Posts: 774 | Location: Westmont, Illinois 60559 | Registered: 04 January 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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By all means, I was glad to hear someone shared my feelings. Teachers need to stand up and become strong in the face of ever increasing pressure from outside interests that do not really understand the commitment that they make to their students.

quote:
Originally posted by ravenswake:
patrask, excellent. May I give a copy of your work to my sister, who's taught 3rd grade in a rural community since '79? Only to see her health insurance dwindle, and her retirement fund raided by governors of both parties? Teaching is an act of true heroism. Bless them all.
 
Posts: 847 | Location: Laguna Hills, CA USA | Registered: 02 January 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I was lucky, my mom is a retired teacher, I was reading by age 4. When I was a kid I could read seven books in a day. Now that I'm an adult I don't have that kind of time, though. Yes, teach kids to read as early as you can.
 
Posts: 386 | Registered: 31 July 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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