That Teacher


In the words of William Butler Yeats, “Education is not the filling of a pail but the lighting of a fire.”

We must credit our teachers who ignite the fire of learning in the mind of each and every child who yearns for knowledge whether they realize it or not.

Often, our best memories of childhood revolve around a great teacher, who inspired and changed our life. Their words, or actions linger in our memory decades after we leave school. Subconsciously, we emulate them as we pass on our knowledge to the next generation. Thus, a great teacher’s influence can last for many generations and leaves a foot print on our hearts.

But recent changes in education and the trajectory of reform threatens to change our attitude about teachers and puts them in the most untenable position of becoming an appendage for all that is wrong with Regents Reform.

Common Core, high stakes tetsing and APPR allow teachers to fill the pail, but no more, they provide no means nor incentive to light that proverbial fire.

Without that fire, grains of sand are just that….. sand.

It takes fire for a child to look at sand and build a sand castle, dont you know.

Despite the same, many teachers refuse to give in and are fighting NYSEDs agenda refusing to submit to becoming a “stepford teacher” in our schools.

And, so for every “That Parent” that exists in the world, there is “That Teacher” who strives to light a fire in our kids and who manages to touch our hearts.

Teaching in a small school district presents a challenge on many fronts. Sometimes, its hard to rally collegaues and parents so that your cause has enough strength and/or support that will actually make a change.

You may feel like your voice is drowned out by the chatter of nothingness.

You may feel powerless or that your efforts to teach are fruitless.

You may question why bother teaching  at all.

Standing at the head of the classroom day after day staring at sea of sometimes blank faces, you may feel alone but, I assure you, that you are not.

Some parents are quick to complain but slow to take action to support you. Your fellow teachers may not seem to have your back. Administrators  may stifle your opinions and threaten to have your head on a platter if you dare disturb the status quo and try to make your objections known.

Others are simply too scared to step up lest they be singled out and ostracized by their peers.

Many parents support you secretly but are afraid to show it because they fear backlash from unscrupulous officials or that their friends wont approve.

Sometimes they think you’re to blame, after all you are the one instituting this nonsense in our schools, why dont you say something, do something, stop this and fight back they might say.

Many teachers worry that they will be labelled or known as “that teacher” which is apparently a derogatory term.

Lets face it, no one wants to be “that teacher” after all.

You know who “that teacher” is….

That teacher is not well liked because other teachers resent the fact that the person is questionning authority and rocking the proverbial boat. Who does she think she is anyway, they might say.

That teacher stands up for whats right in general and not just what’s right according to the regulars who frequent and gossip in the teachers lounge.

That teacher acts on principle even if it pisses off district administrators.

That teacher feels angry and betrayed when she sees one of her own collect a paycheck while coasting on tenure oblivious to the fact that his students are starving for knowledge and fails to feed them or inspire them to learn.

That teacher brings an extra snack in her purse so the kid who shows up day after day without one wont go hungry on her watch.

That teacher stifles her tears and tries to calm down her rage when the student who recieved honors last year cries because he now qualifies for AIS and does not understand that its not his fault….. he has not gotten dumber in one year, but because NYSED has changed cut scores, thats all.

That teacher is a preffered customer at the parent teacher store where she buys basic necessities for her students that the district budget knows the students need but fails to provide year after year.

That teacher stands up and faces an audience all by herself and speaks up proudly but with a quiver in her voice.

That teacher speaks her mind even when her knees are shaking and her body shivers with fear.

That teacher feels insatiably angry when a student  get upset because he doesnt get it or blames himself for being stupid when he’s not.

That teacher comforts a child each time he cries or explodes out of frustration during a long and rigorous day taking test after test for hours on end at school.

That teacher puts on her boots and keeps on truckin even though district officials and NYSED throw obstacles in her way designed to make her  want to quit or at least stop her dead in her tracks.

That teacher has researched each and every module for that week on EngageNY and knows exactly what to do that day despite the fact that the lesson module was released to the public just last night.

That teacher has written 100 emails to every Senator and Assembly person in the State objecting on behalf of herself and her students but has only gotten 1 reply, and its an automated vacation message…..having a great time in Fiji, wish you were here….it reads.

That teacher makes the heroic effort to keep her home life and family in balance as she dons a cape and tries to save the world bearing an alias in an undercover secret society otherwise known as BATs.

That teacher knows that children are more than a test score.

That teacher would put herself in harms way and would take a bullet if the situation called  for her to protect and shield our babies from harm at school.

That teacher does not appreciate the State’s attempt to use her and her students as test subjects in this massive experiment known as Common Core.

That teachers spends her day teaching but  knows that teaching and learning is not confined to certain numbers on a clock.

That teacher runs a mile every single day in the race to end this educational disaster even though she hasnt even left the house yet.

That teacher gets knocked down, scapegoated and trampled on by Regent Tisch every time she opens her big  snobby mouth but she dusts herself off and stands back up at the smart board ready to teach again.

That teacher shows up at BOE meetings month after month after month when all others are nowhere to be found because the kids in her class are worth fighting for.

That teacher endures snickers and eye rolling from others during staff meetings because they envy the fact that she has chosen not to sell out or conform.

That teacher fends off angry, frustrated parents  understanding where they are coming from and why with such compassion and grace – of course  because she gets it and doesnt blame them for being mad, she is too.

That teacher sticks to her laurels while being forced to serve a life sentence in the confines of a fortress built subject to his majesty King’s iron rule.

That teacher puts the kids who look up to her and need her first. Her  job is second and she’ll make sure you dont forget that as she advocates for them day after day.

That teacher deserves an oscar for all the roles she has to play in order to fit the needs of students who seek someone to fill a void- mother, father, step parent, friend, confidant, priest or even a therapist.

That teacher usually budgets presents every year for the one child in her class who she knows will probably not get one either because his parents are too poor or maybe they are neglectful.

That teacher strives to turn darkness into light so that her students can see.

That teacher strives to turn a child’s hate of a subject into love or at least like so that they give it a shot.

That teacher reaches out to show a child how to turn his pain into poetry knowing full well that he has to channel his emotions productively or they will eat him alive and she cant bear to sit back, do nothing and just watch him, fade away into a sea of nothingness.

That teacher strives to show a child how to turn an idea into art.

That teacher grades papers with an eye toward encouraging a child’s creativity.

That teacher believes in a child even if he does not believe in himself.

That teacher feels hurt and disappointed for a child, but tries not to judge, when his parent fails to show up play after play and offers nothing but excuse after excuse.

That teacher extends a hand because she can see lonliness and pain  the eyes of a child who is outcast by others. They see nothing but a freakshow and make no effort to look at him for as anything more.

That teacher nips bullying in the bud, shuts down the mean girl society and holds every Regina George  accountable because bullying will not be tolerated on her watch. Given what transpired at Columbine, Sandy Hook and Aurora she knows the stakes are too high and bullying could escalate to life or death. And, that goes for bullying amongst grown ups too.

That teacher strives to rescusitate life into a child who others have given up on and cast aside as a lost cause.

That teacher loans a student her mittens at recess because its damn cold out and he needs them more than she does after all.

That teacher becomes a marriage counselor to feuding parents who cannot put aside their issues long enough to discuss why their child is failing class and use that time, instead, to deny there is a problem and choose to blame her instead of recognizing that the poor kid is stuck in between and suffering due to ongoing discord.

That teacher feels enraged with officials in NY when she hears propaganda and rhetoric being advanced throug Engage NY.

That teacher sends telepathic messages to parents assuring them that they are on the same page in this endeavor to stop Common Core, end testing and  in the fight against data mining due to student privacy concerns.

That teacher drives 1 hour out of her school district and dresses incognito just so she can approach the mic to speak out aganst common core because her values tell her that she has to say something but reality is she just cant risk losing her job.

That teacher holds back her tears and paints a smile on her face while attempting to connect with the child who stares at her blankly becuase, she can clearly see, he has already given up hope.

That teacher hears crickets and sees blank stares looking back at her each time she speaks to officials trying to resolve valid concerns.

That teacher advances sound arguments on issues that effect students emotionally, academically and socially but is dismissed by King and accused of being a zealot or a “special interest group.”

That teacher who other teachers resent because she makes them look bad for doing nothing at all.

That teacher writes emails to officials relentlessly, posts night and day to spread awareness and searches for clues and ways to ouwit NYSED the likes of which would make Sherlock Holmes look like a slacker.

That teacher cries a waterfall of tears because NYSED has shown her that her students just dont matter anymore.

That teacher takes a deep breath and marches on day after day despite the fact that 500 educators and professionals have “grave concerns” over common core and NYSED isnt listening.

That teacher stands tall every single morning with a lump in her throat and fights back tears in her eyes knowing full well that the children in her class are flying on a plane, you know the one, its still being built in the sky. She knows that  at some point luck will run out and the damn thing is just going crash and take her and the class down with it.

That teacher is on a first name basis with hundreds of teachers and parent going through the same thing across the State but none of them seem to live in her district. If they are, they pretend not to know each other and continue undercover so as not to jeopardize her job.

That teacher sends virtual hugs to people she’s never even met after they’ve come home from a BOE meeting or parent teacher conference crushed by flawed policies once again.

That teacher searches the internet and roves IT magazines like a CIA operative just to find a way to hekp get her students PII out of InBloom.

That teacher calls Sears, like normal people do, not the head of GE when her refrigerator breaks down.

That teacher knows exactly what the lesson plan is because she’s reviewed the script, all 1000 pages of it.

That teacher thinks that children should not be composing and decomposing numbers in Kindergarten even though NYSED tells her that it is developmentally and age appropriate.

That teacher’s anxieyt level is at an all time high because her students will never be college and career ready and she wont make APPR unless her kids can show on a test that they are each proficient in quantum physics by the age of 8 despite the individual strengths and weaknesses that make them who they are.

That teacher doesnt sleep because she realizes what harm her students suffer and this keeps her awake night after night after night.

That teacher endures whispers and stares and listens to others snicker when she walks into a room because she is the only one courageous enough to speak out.

That teacher endures the hurt when others talk behind her back because they have nothing better to do and cant say anything nice to her face.

That teacher loves her job and hte kids so much she morphs into a human mamma bear intent on protecting her classroom full of cubs from harm.

That teacher sacrifices time to reach out to others so that they can protect their students too.

That teacher rescues her students from the confines of a small cardboard box only to find NYSED has boxed each one in again.

That teacher usually speaks louder when other teachers tell her to shut up and sit down.

That teacher sets a good example for her students which someday she hopes they will remember her for and will choose to follow.

That teacher plans to claw, rake, slash and kick her way through all this beurocratic muck and mire just to get her students to a safe place so that they can live life, be happy and dream big.

That teacher just doesnt care what people think of her because what really matters to her is doing right by each and every student in her class.

That teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.

That teacher teaches from the heart, not from the book.

That teacher knows, it’s easy to make a buck. It’s a lot tougher to make a difference.

That teacher  sees visions of  tomorrow in every child’s eyes today.

That teacher takes a hand, opens a mind, and touches a heart. 

You know who “that teacher” is, dont you?

If you’re reading this post, then that teacher is  you.

And being ”that teacher” makes parents and children proud and we stand by you and thank you for all that you do.


That teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops. ~Henry Adams

That teacher knows, it’s easy to make a buck. It’s a lot tougher to make a difference. Tom Brokaw

That teacher takes a hand, opens a mind, and touches a heart. ~Author Unknown

That teacher teaches from the heart, not from the book. Author Unknown

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