Daily we hear about what our students "should be doing" in school to best equip them for the future. However, we classroom teachers serve too many masters. The State and Federal Governments have sets of Standards that must be met. The particular school district has its own mandates and schedules, while parents and students have their own expectations, and our increasingly tech-savvy world increases the pressure with an accelerating growth in the global knowledge base and additional skill set requirements for modern learners. Some place in all this, something has to give since those simultaneous conditions are often at odds with each other.
So, it is often a teacher's personal beliefs and ideals that get the axe. In an effort to "keep up with the Joneses" globally, teachers have been told to be sure that we inundate all students with math and science, keep them up to date on all New Literacies, yet well-versed in the classics, and fluent in at least two languages.
Additionally, students are being stretched farther and farther with their involvements in clubs, team sports, organizations, choir, orchestra, band, volunteering, jobs, fund-raising, trips, and other extra-curricular opportunities. Somewhere in all this, there is supposed to be time for family amid the studies and events.
With all this going on around us, I continually have to fall back on the words of one of my colleagues, who in turn heard it from a mentor years ago. "Sometimes, you just have to close your door and practice your craft." After all, while there is a certain science to teaching, there is also a major dose of art in it as well. Teachers who are truly worth their salt have teaching as a part of their very being. It is not merely a profession; it is a calling at the deepest levels-- reaching out to students to help them become the very best selves they can.