Monday, March 2, 2015

"Your work is not in vain." Geoffrey Golden, Winner of "Sunday Best" on BET

Last week, I received an article from my friend Trem Oatman, supporter of all things education as well as all teachers.  The article was about a project in the Cleveland Heights Schools called "Reaching Musical Heights."  Every four years, music teachers and their students grades 4 through 12 collaborate to present a mega production which not only showcases the talent and enthusiasm of the student, but also sanctifies and validates the importance of teaching music and the arts in schools.  

You see, some things - like music education- simply cannot be measured by The Common Core and No Child Left Behind. Teaching to THE TEST is not necessarily the best way to teach students.

The "Educational Gurus" and US House of Representatives are all about demanding 
ACCOUNTABILITY from teachers and school districts. They think that every child should be on the same page of the math book on the same day.  The Common Core is a good idea in theory, because all students should learn specific information in public schools. The Common Core is not a good idea when it becomes the only information shoved down the throats of students, making students become averse to learning, rather than welcoming new ideas and concepts, and viewing learning as a lifelong activity.  The test,  the test, the test, becomes more important than the learning, the learning, the love of and appreciation for learning!  As a teacher, I have no problem with accountability. However, I do have a problem with stringent and stressful demands that make school an unpleasant place to be for children, and test scores that seem to matter more than the individual child.  I have a bigger problem with governments who think that all children have exactly the same abilities, and standards, many which can never be met by some students, no matter how hard they try.

All of this ranting takes me back to the beautiful and well-written article.  A young man named Geoffrey Golden  joined the other students on stage.  He was not just any young man; he was the winner of the TV show "Sunday Best", which is a sort of Gospel version of "American Idol."  This young man spoke to the audience about the importance of music in school and in his life, about learning lessons about tenacity and involvement in school music classes, about applying those lessons to his real life.  As he ended his spoken presentation, he shouted into the microphone "Your work is not in vain."

Although I am not a music teacher, and I can only wish I had been this young man's teacher, these words touch my soul.  With all of the stressful burdens placed on the shoulders of administrators, teachers, and students, these words tell me that the passion for teaching continues to ripple through the hearts and souls of our students, and that teachers DO make a difference in the lives of students, despite the dehumanizing tests and demands of the government.

For some educators, the stresses placed upon them may force thoughts of leaving education and changing careers. If you are one of the teachers considering leaving the classroom,  I urge you not to make that decision, not if you still have a passion for teaching and caring for children and wanting what is best for them.

I have always known that a good teacher can change a life, but even after 37 years in the classroom, I still enjoy the validation of my profession, even from a student who was not in my class.  

I hope my blog and this article help YOU to feel validated today.  One great teacher can impact a student's life and help him to reach heights he never imagined.  BE THAT ONE GREAT TEACHER.  "Your work is not in vain." 

Here is the link to the article:

As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions.

Rittman Publishing, LLC

Dede is proud to announce that her book has now won three awards! 

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Dede Rittman and Neil Haley are available to speak and do interviews on various educational topics. 


Award winning author of Student Teaching:  The Inside Scoop from a Master Teacher;; Blogger- Lessons learned from the Bunny Teacher , Guest Education Expert for The Total Tutor Education network, Motivational Speaker, 37 year veteran English/Theater Teacher; 33 year Varsity Boys’ Golf Coach; Musical and Talent Show Director. PA TOY Semi-Finalist, 2011  412-613-3805

Educator, entrepreneur, radio host, television host, celebrity interviewer, educational consultant, child advocate, and former professional wrestler, Neil Haley is a lively interviewer and interviewee. Neil is CEO of Total Tutor and Total Education Network  Fridays at 5 PM Eastern and Thursdays at 9 AM Eastern on 88.3 FM WRCT Pittsburgh  Watch Total Education with Neil Fridays 8 PM on BPTV Pittsburgh  Total Education Network is syndicated on 120 +stations. CEO, Producer, Host, Coach, and Consultant 412-523-0289 

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