Saturday, 11 May 2013

Don't Take Credit For Teaching Me

     There has been a specific video popping up everywhere online this week: Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, etc. You probably know the one I am talking about: Jeff Bliss, from Texas, telling his teacher how she should be doing her job. If you haven't seen it yet, take a look:

     When I watched this video I couldn't help but think of my experiences in the classroom and some things definitely jumped out at me. The first thing was how the teacher handled the situation. The video, unfortunately, doesn't show the lead up to this conversation but the student is obviously completely frustrated with the situation and the teacher doesn't even get up from her desk. When I am teaching I am never actually sitting at the desk, I am usually wandering about the classroom, interacting with students, answering questions, monitoring work, etc. If I had a student who was frustrated to this point I would either pull them out to talk through the situation privately or have a large-group discussion if I felt the situation needed it (I wouldn't remain sitting at my desk). The other thing that really bothered me was that the teacher didn't even respond to the student's comments and questions. In fact, you can repeatedly hear her in the background saying, "Goodbye", "Get out", and "You are wasting my time". As a teacher, I strongly believe we should be encouraging our students to learn and develop as individuals while providing a safe environment for them to do so. Personally, comments like that do not seem to fit in with this mindset.

     The other thing that stood out for me was the student's comments about differentiated instruction, or lack thereof. The comment from the video states, "Just get up and teach em' instead of handing them a freakin' packet... there are kids in here that don't learn like that. They need to learn face-to-face." It is so important for teachers to not only work on making learning relevant and meaningful for their students, but also work on providing various learning opportunities based on their student's needs, abilities, and interests. If a situation is to the point where the students are calling teachers out on not differentiating instruction, then something is definitely wrong. 99% of the time if you ask your students what they like/dislike about school they can tell you right away that they "hate writing notes", "need the classroom to be quiet in order to focus", "love activities where they can move around the room", etc. All teachers, regardless of subject, need to be willing to provide various learning opportunities to help ensure that all of their students can be successful. The teacher in the video, apparently, uses a booklet/packet method that students work through interdependently or at their own pace.

     I think the main thing that teachers should take out of this video is that it is so important to be a life-long learner. Maybe the teacher finds it easier to be organized by making packets that are distributed to the students and maybe she has years where her students flourish under this method. The student(s) in the video, however, obviously do not feel that this method is benefiting them in any way. As a teacher, it is our job to understand our students, be cognizant of new and different teaching ideas, and be willing to change our methods to best meet our student's needs. It is my hopes that the teacher takes this opportunity to reevaluate her philosophy of teaching and maybe take some PD opportunities to differentiate instruction in the classroom.

     While videos like this can be negative or disappointing, I want to leave you with a video that I always find inspirational. Think about why you got into teaching and what you want for your students.


  1. That video was disturbing. I have serious questions about that teacher. In these times when our accountability as quality educators is at an all time high, I didn't see her showing any accountability. That young man has a good argument. Thank you for sharing that video.

    First Grade is Fantabulous!

    1. Tanya you are so right about the accountability factor! I think it is entirely reasonable to be asking teachers to be more accountable and we should be working towards being more transparent about what happens in our classrooms. Unfortunately for this teacher, her classroom was not highlighted in the most positive way! Definitely a learning experience for everyone involved.

  2. I am nearing the end of my first year as a 5th grade teacher here in Texas and I can understand this young mans frustrations. Our state test STAAR has put immense pressure on all of us in education from the top all the way down to the students. My testing season began about March 1 and that is when real teaching ended. March and April are for test reviewing. All I am given to use for test prep is worksheets. I would like to think if when I have more experience I will be able to prep w/o worksheets. All that said, I do not think that the teacher in the video helps if all she can say is "get out" to a student who has valid complaints about our educational system. Our state government meets only every other year and they are in session right now. She could have harnessed that young man's passion and directed to him to who really needs to hear his words, our law makers in Austin TX. They are who make us live in this horrible testing environment year after year and it is only getting worse. High schoolers now have to take 15 end of the year tests to graduate (over the 4 years, but right now they are trying to change it to 5). It would be interesting to know the backstory and the teachers perspective that lead up to the time in the video. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thanks for providing more insight on the education system in Texas Mrs. M! Being in Manitoba, Canada, I have a very difficult time putting myself in another's shoes because our education system is so different. We have two provincial exams at the end of Grade 12 (English & Math) but that is it so we definitely have a different mindset and structure compared to classrooms that are involved with so much testing!
      With that being said, I hope that the online attention this video received will help those at "the top" plan more appropriately for future years.


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