Unless teachers… [ #IKnowaTeacher ]

I know a teacher named Ms. Katz. She is my son’s teacher. A passionate professional who has helped my son to love learning the way I had always hoped he would.


I know a teacher named Ms. Katz. She is my son’s teacher. A passionate professional who has helped my son to love learning the way I had always hoped he would.

Ms. Katz is goofy. She has one of those smiles that lets the kids know that every single one of them is in on the joke. I have known her for about 12 years since I taught a digital camera and iMovie class through our school system. Recently she told me that she used what she learned then to document an educational trip to Italy. She used the work she did there to teach my own son about the Roman Empire.

 That is what teacher appreciation is about for me. Honoring teachers who go out every day and do their damnedest to make a difference. I never thought that what I was teaching in those technology classes would come back to benefit the child I love. She inspires my son and she inspires me. I wanted to share a poem I wrote for Ms. Katz. Painted over Ms. Katz’ door is the word unless. It is a guiding principle for her and it might just be the most important word in education today.

Happy teacher appreciation to Ms. Katz and every teacher who makes a difference.

Unless Teachers…

Unless teachers use our voice to change education we are complicit

Unless teachers speak up with their minds and their hearts, our children will walk mediocrity and disadvantage.

Unless teachers tell the stories that happen everyday we prop up the cardboard image that teachers our failing. Failing by whose definition?

Unless we stop buying into spin we verify the story that corporations will save education.

Unless we say something we will lose our children to them.

Young minds will be grist as the mega-foundations bend the ears of our president and his cabinet with races, and ladders, and tests, and preparations. For what?

Life is education.

What is the value-added to the life of a child if the value is calculated in dollars not sense?

What is the value in being examined if what is found missing won’t help at all.

Knowledge is at our fingertips.

Learning is not the same. With the advent of Google everything changed.

We no longer need to memorize unless

it is to tell a story, solve a problem,  create an answer, not pass a test.

The answer is not on the test.

The multiple choice, to close schools or not, will not improve scores on any assessment, not by a long shot.

Unless we listen to teachers who say, “We can do better than this.

Our schools are not failing. We are failing our schools.

Fire the teachers! Fire the teachers! Fire the teachers!

“Fire!” The teachers say, “Is what we make every day.”

The fire of learning is born from the spark. The spark is the connection between humans in a class, molecules of care ping ponging so fast, a light bulb comes on and burns bright to last

as each student walks down THEIR path.

Can google teach how to communicate when you are so mad you want to knock down a wall? No. Thats what teachers do

Can youtube teach you to take another’s perspective, imagine their position, walk in their shoes? No. Thats what teachers do

Can wikipedia teach you to see through the slanting and bending of facts by our leaders? No. Thats what teachers do.

Can the internet teach you to create something new?

No. That’s what teachers do.

Unless teachers help us see

schools are not consumer factories

and teachers aren’t widgets

that do only one thing, prep prep prep, prep

Unless we see teachers don’t really teach to the test.

They teach democracy, possibility, humanity.

Teachers teach UNLESS

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,

Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” – Dr. Seuss

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  • CossondraGeorge

    I’ve missed your voice. What a powerful piece in tribute to your son’s teacher, as well as teachers everywhere. You are point on with your thoughts that WE, teachers, are the missing piece in education. All the knowledge in the world is not enough, without caring, compassionate educators who give that sparkle smile to their students, each and every day. 


  • JohnHolland

    Thank You

    Thanks Cossandra. I appreciate your perspective. I have really decided that, much like my classroom, nothing will happen unless I make it happen.