WUNC ran a month-long project where we asked teachers to give us a snapshot of their lives.
Many teachers shared photos of exciting things happening inside their classrooms. But many also shared frustrations. Teacher pay and workload topped the list:
We asked a variety of educational leaders in the state to review all of the responses to #TeachingInNC. We asked a simple question: what do you see?
Eric Guckian, Senior Education Advisor to Governor Pat McCrory:
I taught for five years myself and it remains the toughest thing I've ever done. I hope we can work together as a state to make teaching a more viable and sustainable career path, with real channels and choices for advancement and continuous improvement. The teacher in a classroom is the number one factor in a student's academic success; we can do better and we ought to.
June Atkinson, NC State Superintendent of Public Instruction:
"I am proud to see such wonderful illustrations of creative, engaging and quality learning occurring in our public school classrooms. However, it also is understandable that our teachers are frustrated and feel undervalued because their worth is not being reflected in the decisions affecting their profession." >>Read full response.
Terry L. Stoops, Director of Research and Education Studies, John Locke Foundation:
"Contributions to the superb #TeachingInNC project are, to quote baseball great Yogi Berra, déjà vu all over again. ... Over the last century, elected officials, bureaucrats, and partisans have long complained of legislative neglect - insufficient education funding, inadequate school facilities, and unsuitable instructional materials, to name a few.
Likewise, educators have long accused elected officials of providing unsatisfactory compensation, preserving unacceptable working conditions, and cultivating a negative perception of their profession. >>Read full response
Mark Jewell, Vice President, NCAE:
Each morning, all across the state, in rich communities and in poor, in the rural hollers to the bustling skylines of the Triad, Triangle, and Charlotte; bells ring and school doors open. Through those doors walk the children of this state, some from wealthy neighborhoods, some from impoverished, some from secure families and some who have all too often known nothing but tragedy and defeat.
Through the doors they walk and in every school there is an educator waiting on them to say "good morning," or "welcome," and "open your books and let's begin."
... Having highly qualified and talented teachers, just like the ones highlighted in these many wonderful pictures and tweets, is essential to student success - but who in the future will be lured with wages that start low and fail to keep pace with our neighboring states? >>Read full response
Timothy Barnsback, President, Professional Educators of North Carolina:
The images and stories shared by teachers in WUNC's #TeachingInNC initiative reflect the profoundly personal nature of the job performed everyday by classroom teachers in North Carolina's Public Schools.
These submissions portray the humanistic side of the business of education that is unquantifiable and cannot be evaluated by concrete assessments. ...
Teachers invest all that we are. We grade stacks of papers after the family has gone to bed. We spend Saturday night cooking homemade Play-do so our students can be creative in understanding. We are inspired by the success of others, and are humbled by the extent of our reach.
I am proud to call myself a teacher in North Carolina. Standing our ground is what we do here. >>Read full response
Bill McDiarmid, Dean, UNC School of Education:
I don't think people understand truly what life is like for a teacher unless they are one themselves, or they live with a teacher. I don't think most people appreciate how hard teachers work. People say "Oh they get three months off in the summer ."
One of the [contributors to the project] talked about spending five hours reading and editing rough drafts of essays, and let me tell you, that's not unusual. It breaks my heart to see the way people are talked about by folks who don't fully understand what the job entails. >>Read full response
Howard Lee, Founder, Howard N. Lee Institute:
I appreciate that the teachers are getting students to understand that it's OK to dream … but beyond the vision, you have to have hope that you can achieve. We have to have faith in ourselves (including the teachers.)
I am 80 years old now. I started in 1966 in this, and have been engaged in educational issues off and on for over 45 years. Why do I keep doing this work? I often tell my wife that this is my way of outrunning death. There is so much we are not doing to give hope to students. But education can be the primary focus to help create hope. >> Read full response
Barnett Berry, CEO, Center for Teaching Quality:
School reform of late has fixated on firing so-called "bad" teachers or finding a few smart ones who will teach for a few years. But in reality our nation (and our state) has very few ineffective teachers. What policymakers need to do more than anything else is to create a system that will utilize all the excellent teachers currently teaching. Now is the time for a bold brand of teacher leadership to drive 21st century learning for all our public school students.