I spent the better part of the day going to school Open Houses, 5 in all, from elementary to high school. The unique mix of magnet options and school structure that has my neighborhood as it's epicenter puts my 4 children in 3 different elementary schools and a cross-town middle school, with the choice of 4 potential high schools.
Starting at 8 am, I learned about: building community in a high school at the top of such a pyramid; the difference in the various types of quadrilaterals (don't forget the "h" in rhombus); simple addition, Christopher Columbus, and purple meat-eating crocodiles; proper finger placement for the flute; and the physical and chemical properties of matter.
Wrangling the children into their seats, pulling answers as if pulling teeth, and excitedly explaining angles was a representation of the army of teachers and administrators that is required to educate my small gaggle of children. Sitting in the back of the classroom, I appreciated the hours of preparation, the energy, and the patience that these people have to muster each day to prepare our next generation.
There's been a lot of public debate about the value of teachers and what they should be getting paid. Balancing the teacher salary budget versus the cost of keeping libraries open on Sundays, it's a hard call. There's also been a lot of focus lately on bad teachers and I would agree that there are some of those around. But I'm happy to say, that I didn't see any of them today. Instead there were teachers and administrators who looked at the range of skills, diversity of backgrounds, and spans of interest that are embodied in the children before them and worked hard to teach every one of them something.
Whether your child's classroom is equipped with a dusty chalkboard, an overhead projector, or a shiny Promethean board, if they came home today and said they learned something, you should thank their teacher. (And if they didn't, you should find out why not.)