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Teaching Should Be Magical For Teacher and Students

Updated on October 3, 2013

I understand! Seriously, I’ve been there. Eighteen years of teaching spanning thirty years and during that time I taught in grades 5-12 and even junior college. I never taught lower than that; it takes a special person to teach the lower grades. Those kids are so juiced up that they wear me out in ten minutes, so those of you who do teach the younger ones, you have my heartfelt respect.

I understand! I know the problems that you face. I know the frustration that you feel. I also know why you became a teacher in the first place, so that you could make a difference in the lives of children.

I understand! I have fought the same battles that you fight daily. I have dealt with the frustrated and angry parents and I’ve felt the heartache associated with having a student slip through the cracks.

I understand! I have come home dead tired and feeling like I have failed. I have had abused students and ones who seem so lost it appears they will never find their way to happiness.

I understand! I have been forced to teach to standardized tests all the while knowing that true education resides in the imagination of the classroom teacher.

I know the amount of time each and every one of you invests for your kids and I know the tears you have wept and the frustration you have experienced in trying to fight the good fight despite enormous odds. Having said all that, I also tell you that a new, renewed and inspired effort must be made. Those of you on the front lines must find a way to bring back the magic in your classroom because unless learning is exciting and unless kids walk into your classroom enthused then I fear the battle is going to be lost.

I bring no blame into this discussion. I only offer suggestions, possible solutions and encouragement. The hard work is left for you but I am convinced that each and every one of you reading this is not only accustomed to hard work but also willing to work harder if it means reaching your students and lighting a fire underneath them

So, shall we begin?


Students need to be motivated to learn.
Students need to be motivated to learn. | Source
An engaging classroom
An engaging classroom

Teaching Is a Year Round Gig

For as long as I have been in education I have heard people say that the pay is pretty good considering that teachers only work eight or nine months during the year. First of all, the pay is okay and it is what it is. I could discuss the fact that a car mechanic working full time makes more money than the average teacher, or I could mention that a full-time grocery checker at a union store in Olympia makes $20 per hour and thus more than the average teacher, but for now I’m leave that topic alone.

Regarding the “only works eight of nine months” statement, I only have one thing to say: what a bunch of hogwash! Teachers I have known (and the teacher I was) work closer to eleven months per year and quite often work into the evenings and on weekends. How can that be you ask? The grading of papers and the drawing up of lesson plans do not happen by themselves. Teachers do not have a magic button that, when pushed, magically grades that stack of homework papers. Homework is traditionally graded at home and on weekends by the dedicated teachers. They can’t do it at school because they are at school to…..wait for it….TEACH!

I can tell you with a straight face and my hand on a Bible that during my eighteen years of teaching I always took July off for relaxation and then I started in on my plans for the next year in August. Rarely was there a weekend during the school year that I did not correct and grade papers.

Christmas vacation? Spring break? Yep, we had them and yep, much of that time was spent grading papers and doing lesson plans. No, of course not all of it, but certainly enough to dispel that bull statement that teachers only work eight or nine months per year.

Now I’m going to get out my cattle prod. If you are a teacher and you are not working extra hours to find the best way to teach your kids then why aren’t you? I know the system stinks but I guarantee one thing and one thing only: if your students are going to receive a quality education then you are the one who will have to provide it. I have no faith in the government when it comes to education. They are the ones, after all, who settled on “No Child Left Behind” and the current funding/standardized testing arrangement so there is no way I believe that the government will correct the situation in the near future.

I have no faith in School Boards. I have very little faith in Administrations. I do, however, have faith in the ground troops, the foxhole brethren who each day walk into the classroom and get down and dirty with the students who have been entrusted in their care. You are the ones who will have to go the extra mile, put in the extra time, to find a way to reach your kids.


And What Does It Mean to Reach the Kids?

Education is not rote learning. Education is not a recitation of facts and figures. Sadly it is becoming that as we rely more and more on testing results to fuel the system but that is not what education should be. Our number one priority and responsibility as teachers should be to teach kids to think logically, to develop their critical thinking skills. Only when that has been accomplished can we say as teachers that we have done our job.

I am astounded by the lack of common sense that I see exhibited by many of today’s youth. Logical conclusions that should be painfully obvious to them seem to be completely out of their grasp. They lack critical thinking skills. Oh sure, they can tell you the chemical composition of coal and they understand how to do a power point presentation, but send them out in the real world and they seem helpless when faced with a real life dilemma.

Before you do that, however, before you teach kids how to reason for themselves, you have one important task to perform.


Memories for a lifetime
Memories for a lifetime | Source

Did you have a special teacher who made learning fun and exciting?

See results

Students Need to Be Engaged, Excited and Empowered

If your idea of teaching is reading the chapter, doing the lesson set at the end of the chapter and then testing on the material then you quite simply are missing the point. We have all had teachers who taught like that and we have all wished that we were anywhere else rather than in that classroom. So why would we make our students sit through that?

This is 2012 and in case you haven’t noticed we are having a technological explosion. There are new gadgets being invented seemingly daily that are fun and exciting and that interest the students far more than learning how to write a proper paragraph. There are reality tv shows to watch and YouTube videos to film. There are dysfunctional families doing their dysfunctional thing and there are households where parents are too busy to insist that their children study for school.

Let me ask you this question: if you were a child with little or no support from home but a ton of support from your friends and hundreds of distractions in your daily life, would you be interested in school? What motivation would you have to learn if the encouragement and motivation were not in your home?

The motivation to learn has to come from the teacher! When a child enters your classroom they should be entering a place that is exciting. When a child enters your classroom they should be entering a magical place where the unknown is revealed to them, where mysteries are solved and possibilities are unlimited.


And Just How Do You Do That?

I guess the simplest way for me to answer that question is to tell you to put yourself in the student’s shoes. When you walk into your classroom is it an exciting experience or is it dull and lifeless?

Find a way! The resources are out there if you look for them. The internet offers so many opportunities for free resources but you have to put in the time to look for them. There are community programs available; there are freebies offered and workshops established that can help you. More importantly there are your own creativity and imagination to draw upon.

I do not for a second claim that this is easy but I do claim that it is necessary. I do not believe for a second that a dedicated teacher is satisfied with the status quo if it is not working. I do not believe that a dedicated teacher will rest until they have done everything in their power to achieve their goals.

Find a way! Kick over every rock, knock down every wall, keep doing what you must do in order to provide that magical place in your classroom where kids can reach their potential.

Find a way!

2012 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)


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    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      I am so voting this one up across the board! My teaching job is much,much more than the hours I am paid for. However, as you wrote, it is worth creating a magical learning environment for students.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Teaches, thank you for everything you have done during your career to help the kids. You are special to me!

    • TToombs08 profile image

      Terrye Toombs 5 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map.

      bill: it is teachers like you that have made such a difference in my son's life. Two years ago, looking at him was like looking at a doll; no emotions and just a blank stare. It truely scared me. Because of the determination, persistance, devotion, and love of a handful of outstanding/amazing/awe inspiring teachers, he is now attempting to talk, and sucks up concepts like a hoover. He has progressed SO much in the past 2 years, he's a completely different kid. Thank you for being wonderful. :)

    • Docmo profile image

      Mohan Kumar 5 years ago from UK

      I am fully with you on this theme- teaching is not a job but a vocation of a lifetime. It is so much more than assessments and curricula, tests and metrics. It is about inspiring, guiding, facilitating, mentoring, constructing and creating. All that takes a lot more than standard hours and set timetables. Brilliant hub- voted up and across!

    • Rolly A Chabot profile image

      Rolly A Chabot 5 years ago from Alberta Canada

      Hi Billy... special hugs to all teachers.... they teach young minds, inspire, shape and make a difference in many. Awesome vocation and calling in life...

      Hugs from Canada

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      TT, I am so happy that your son found someone who would take the time to bring out his spirit. It's pretty damn incredible when you see the magic happen. Thank you my dear friend; that brought tears to my eyes.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Docmo! It is an incredibly under-appreciated job, often misunderstood and at times thankless....but the good ones out there are worth their weight in gold.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Rolly and I concur and appreciate you taking the time to read and comment. As always, peace and happiness to you!

    • Spirit Whisperer profile image

      Xavier Nathan 5 years ago from Isle of Man

      Education has been reduced to pouring knowledge into the heads of children. They are supposed to remain still and quiet in their desks all the while. Children all over the world are rebelling because intuitively they know that this is not the way. Society has made the acquisition money and not human values the goal of education and we are now beginning to see the consequences of such an insane objective. With regard to teachers a wise man once told me that there are three kinds of teacher - Those who explain, those who complain and those who inspire. I too have spent moist of my life as a teacher and retired from full time teaching to set up my own Hypno-Psychotherapy private practice. It is a different kind of teaching that I am now immersed in but without the bureaucracy that prevents a teacher from being an inspiration to his students! Great hub, thank you Bill. I thought you might find this video of interest http://youtu.be/7oTRmOBSLSU

    • cardelean profile image

      cardelean 5 years ago from Michigan

      Yes, creating the magic in learning is so important. I agree with you with everything that you have stated here, especially the lack of common sense. Unfortunately in my school, there has been an allowance for the kids and parents to 'run the school' and it has made the actual teaching part very challenging. I have always had a very engaging classroom and this year I have been left to spending the majority of my time managing students rather than teaching. It is a very sad state of affairs.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Xavier, you are very welcome my friend and thank you not only for your comment but also for dedicating your life to helping others...a magnificent testament to you as a human being. Peace and happiness always Xavier.

    • TToombs08 profile image

      Terrye Toombs 5 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map.

      Uhoh...I made bill cry. :( j/k. It's teachers like you that give me hope for his future and that he may one day be close to "normal."

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      TT, what's wrong with your son if you don't mind me asking? you can email me if you like at holland1145@yahoo.com

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Cardelean, I really do understand....been there, done that....it's one reason I finally moved to the private school sector but even there the changes were happening. This starts at the top and if the system is going to change it has to be throughout the system. Thank you for leaving a meaningful comment.

    • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

      Marcy Goodfleisch 5 years ago from Planet Earth

      You are so right, Dearest Billy! I have a friend who is a school administrator and she works every weekend and usually goes in to her office during summers,, too. She's very good at turning around situations where the outcomes (passing rates) are low, and she's in a school with high levels of poverty. In addition to educating the kids, she and her faculty find warm coats and gloves for many of them each winter, and they deal with children living around drug abuse and other hardships.

      Many people aren't aware of the huge amount of money some teachers spend (out of their own pockets) for extra supplies and crafts, additional teaching aids and other items not provided by district budgets. Does your child get a list of supplies that includes Kleenex? That's because there are many runny noses during cold and flu season, and there's usually no money for that, either.

      Hats off to our wonderful educators! Voted up and up!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Excellent points Marcy and thank you for the great comment. I would spend, conservatively, between $300-$500 each year for supplies for my classroom or for some special event or learning unit that was not covered in the budget...it is money I was glad to spend because it was for the kids but people just don't realize the sacrifices that teachers make...anyway, thank you.

    • Lord De Cross profile image

      Joseph De Cross 5 years ago

      Great topic Bill, if we don't invest more in education, and worrying more about Wall St. Our grand kids are in trouble. Happened to Rome, and did happen to our Nordic fellows. There are ways to improve education and no one really cares. Movie stars have the power, but where are they? Working on their next flick to feed their ravaging needs. I praise your years as a teacher, and you deserve so much respect fellow friend!

    • Victoria Lynn profile image

      Victoria Lynn 5 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      This is a very important topic, Bill. Teachers deserve so much credit. I can't imagine teaching the little ones or ones with special needs. I taught high school for a few years, and that working 8 or 9 months, like you say, is baloney! Grading and lesson plans continually! I had homework nearly every night and weekend. Workshops and training and planning during a big part of the summer. Teaching, I thought, was a hard life. While teaching at the community college level isn't quite as intense as public schools, it is still challenging--and always requires homework!

      Thanks for your 18 years in the teaching field. I bet you made a difference in a lot of lives. Thanks for writing this hub. Teachers deserve it! Every vote but funny here! Sharing!

    • TToombs08 profile image

      Terrye Toombs 5 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map.

      He is non-verbal autistic whirlwind with a side of apraxia thrown in for good measure. :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Lord! Those are kind words and I am grateful to you. I was the lucky one; I got to do something I loved AND got paid for it. :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Vicki! I know you understand the job and all that it requires. I appreciate your kind words my friend.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Well that's a complicated package for sure. I'd love to hear more...I'm going to drop you a note off of the public setting.

    • ChristyWrites profile image

      Christy Birmingham 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      You have much wisdom to share Bill and your words I am sure inspire other teachers. I vote up.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Christy, I've lived a long time. I hope what you say is true. Thank you so much for your kindness and loyalty.

    • stephhicks68 profile image

      Stephanie Hicks 5 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      A teacher is so much more than just an educational instructor. I am so grateful for the teachers I had - and now those that my kids have had - that truly inspire, care and believe in their students. I think of my favorite teachers (they were both men) almost as uncles! Great hub, Bill. Rated up!

    • TToombs08 profile image

      Terrye Toombs 5 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map.

      Sounds good to me, Bill. :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Steph, there are some truly great ones out there. Thank you my friend; I need to visit you and see what you have been up to lately.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 5 years ago from SW England

      Voted up, interesting, useful and shared. Amen, amen, amen to all that! You are so right - this bridges the pond, Billy. Here we have a big problem as there is not enough time to go 'off at a tangent' in a subject governed by syllabus. Science is the prime example. A student can ask a brilliant question and be told 'sorry, we haven't got time to go into that' - how sad is that?! An enquiring mind has been quashed and enthusiasm has been dampened; just the opposite of what we should be doing. You're so right, too, about common sense. Surely we're there to teach students useful things for life, not to train them merely to pass exams. I could go on for ever... but I won't! Hope lots of practising teachers read this. Well done again! Ann

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 5 years ago from Southern Illinois

      I have great admiration for teachers. I had an English teacher named Anna Lee, I will never forget her, she was strict but wanted each of us to learn, and we did. Thank you for sharing your experience as a teacher...Enjoyed..

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Ann, I hate to say this but I'm almost glad it is the same in Europe...at least we aren't so lonely then with our ignorance. I have no idea how this is all going to be turned around but it is depressing and it's like a fungus that won't go away.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      You are very welcome Ruby! I consider myself very lucky to have taught as long as I did...my students were the best!

    • whonunuwho profile image

      whonunuwho 5 years ago from United States

      A wonderful hub, and I enjoyed it very much. As a teacher of many years, I have found that an interesting presentation and one that is full of exciting qualities, is a great way to motivate children. I used art a lot,since I was a teacher of the subject for a while, and later changed to Special Education, when I taught twenty-five years, and learned a lot from my kids. Children who struggle with some subjects, have a positive experience and it makes all the difference, Thanks again.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Who, God bless you for your career and for caring and I agree completely...interesting presentations, making the subject come alive, they all pay huge dividends.

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 5 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      bill....I can't imagine you having been anything but a superb teacher. Any school that was fortunate enough to have you, had a tremendous asset. I would imagine that you miss it now and then. I'm sure there are students who will always remember Mr. Holland......

      Now, about MY H.S teachers.....ahem! Well....I....yeah...OK....No, I better not. Damn, as dastardly as I am, I just can't bring myself to speak ill of the dead. They all HAVE to be dead.....they were in their 70's.....45 years ago. I mean, how long can mean,frustrated nuns and pedophile priests live??

      No....I am not sorry....no, I will not say 5 Hail Mary's and 10 Our father's...and poke that crooked finger in my face, one more time and you'll be pulling it out of your throat with your tonsils attached! Hear me SISTA!!!?? As for you, Padre, quit looking up my uniform skirt!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Paula...wait a minute...LOL...okay, I'm ready...no, wait again...LMAO...okay, here goes...

      We seem to have some unresolved issues with the Catholic Church! Would I be safe in assuming that? Well join the friggin' club my dear! Still to this day I can't look at a penguin without feeling rage swelling inside of me. As for priests, I was let go from a teaching position because of a hypocrite in black who didn't walk the talk...whew...I feel better now.

      Thank you for your kind words; I actually was a good teacher and well loved by my students...still hear from quite a few of them. Now if we could just clone me before I die the education system would be in much better shape.

      Thanks Paula; I'm still laughing.

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 5 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Penguins.....oh arghhhhhh yuk....I was driving the other day and saw 2 of those little buggers waddling acorss the street. If I didn't love my car so much......!!

      When I see 10 of them in a VEE formation, I just feel like bowling! Hold still, bitch, I'm aimin for a spare!

      no....no unresolved issues. Why do you ask?

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Paula, you had me laughing out loud at that one...Bev wondered by I was howling in laughter....now she is.

      Have a good night my dear!

    • TToombs08 profile image

      Terrye Toombs 5 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map.

      OMG. *wiping tears* The banter between you and Paula had me laughing so hard I cried! We really need a Penguin Liberation Association aka - Freed From Catholic School! :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      TT, if you have never met Paula I suggest you send out a friend request; she is one of the good people on HubPages!

    • TToombs08 profile image

      Terrye Toombs 5 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map.

      I agree. She is an inspiration among many other things. :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I know she inspires me to laugh my ass off!

    • TToombs08 profile image

      Terrye Toombs 5 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map.

      That too. You two make a great comedy team. :) I could read the back and forth for hours. :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      TT, we were both brutalized by nuns...we have a lot of pent-up frustration and, dare I say, hatred.

    • MazioCreate profile image

      MazioCreate 5 years ago from Brisbane Queensland Australia

      What can I add to the comments that hasn't already been said? Teaching is a rewarding profession, but at the same time it can feel like you're being pulled through the wringer. For many years I have been on my soapbox about how to engage students and include the FUN element in learning. It's great to see another soapbox addict out there on the same subject.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 5 years ago from SW England

      Yes it's not just in the US. We even have dodgy exam markers here now. Many students have lost a grade or two because the examiners couldn't add up properly! It's the latest news and really puts a downer on education in general. Our exam boards have enjoyed a huge reputation up to a few years ago, now it seems every aspect of teaching is going to the dogs. I'm an optimist generally and I know there are many brilliant teachers out there. Teacher training is not comprehensive enough, though, and as we said, classes are not allowed to veer off the 'prescribed' path. How to turn it around? Make sure teaching only accepts the committed and inspired and let them do their jobs without interference from politicians who think they know better but definitely don't!

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 5 years ago from Central Florida

      Bill, as the mother of a Florida native, I must tell you, the Florida public school system sucks! We have a standarized test here, called FCAT, which is basically a report card for schools. A+ schools are rewarded with - you guessed it! - federal funds! That's all the schools here care about! There's NO creativity and absolutely NO teaching of anything that's not on FCAT. Hell, the teachers even give the kids the questions on the test, so they can basically cheat in advance!

      My son is ADHD and very intellingent. But all ADHD children need stimulation in order to maintain focus. Hell, we all do! He absolutely hated school because he was bored and his grades reflected his lack of enthusiasm. But when you talk to him, you'll be amazed by his vocabulary and creativity! I read to him daily from the day he was born until he could read himself. I've introduced music to his soul and his dad passed on his ability to draw. However, although he sees common sense and drive in me, it's not been implemented by the people (teachers) who had my son's life in their hands for more hours in a day than I. That is, until he joined JROTC in high school. What a turn around! His instructors were retired military colonels and sergeants. They gave the cadets focus, a sense of pride and challenged them to go beyond themselves!

      Our school systems need to realize that our children are not commodities. They are human beings with minds and souls and are the future of our world. Are any of them ready to undertake that responsibility????

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Mazio, I used to pull my hair out watching some teachers struggle with learning and discipline in their classrooms and they couldn't figure it out....and their classrooms were oppressive and boring. Duh! They just didn't get it that they were the ones who had the change, not the students. I'm thankful for your comment. If you are still teaching then best wishes go out to you and thank you for dedicating your life to the kids.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Ann, I can't argue with your solution at all. That is the solution but oh my, how to get that enacted? That's the rub now isn't it? Thank you my friend and bless you!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Sha, it is a broken system run by politicians. What chance do we have of getting "fixed" anytime soon? Anytime money and politics mix you have a recipe for disaster. I am sorry for your son; his story, unfortunately, is not unique at all; in fact, it is the norm.

      This system will not be fixed in the near future. It is a mess and will continue to be a mess and that depresses me.

      LOL

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      onlooker 5 years ago

      I've never imagined in my wildest dreams to teach. I lack the patience which I think is very important to become a teacher. I know for a fact that teaching is a year round job including the holidays. My mother-in-law is writing down student reports this weekend. One for the parents and a separate assessment for the school. She is also revising for the up coming tests. A new rule says that all teachers should have umm knowledge about health issues in case of emergencies. Poor lady. Most of her weekend and holidays are spent on reports, ideas, training/teaching workshops, buying stuff for her class, changing decor according to the lessons she will be teaching at the time. Going to the schools and sticking, changing, re arranging. PHEW!! I could go on and on. I respect teachers. Period.

      I wish you were my teacher then but hey you're no less. I bet you still are a fav among a lot of your students.

      Thank you, Bill. This is an eye opener for so many.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Ava, the picture you painted about your mother-in-law is so very common for most teachers and I thank you for the insights. It is a full time job, one that most people don't understand. And yes, it requires patience...oh so much patience. Thank you my dear!

    • rahul0324 profile image

      Jessee R 5 years ago from Gurgaon, India

      A very great article My friend! I did not know this fact about you until today! My respect for you has increased!

      I have had the gift of gifted teachers all throughout my school life up to grade 12... and they all had two things in common... Depth of their subject and Brilliant communication skill!

      One of teachers.. Anand Kumar.. is known all over the world from His Super 30 fame... , he was a prodigy in Math!

      Ah! I am going on blabbering... but Billy, you have been a great teacher since I have met you here! Your craft and creativity inspires me.. and I learn from it! Really

      A wonderful hub!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Rahul, thank you kindly! I had a wonderful teaching career that filled me with joy. I would not trade those years for anything.

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