Education and the Chocolate Factory

Utah Teacher Fellow, Deborah Gatrell recently shared her thoughts on the pressures of public school teachers r on the Hope Street Group Medium blog.  Read a snippet here or check out the HSG blog for the full article.

Pressure on public school teachers resembles the “I Love Lucy” episode where Lucy and Ethel are working in a chocolate factory. At first, the belt bringing chocolates through for them to individually wrap — a simple task — moves at a leisurely pace and they have a lovely time working and socializing. The belt speeds up and they work frantically, keeping up for a while. The belt then speeds up further and it’s all they can do to make the chocolates disappear — eating some, stuffing others in their pockets, and wrapping a few. The situation is chaotic.

Were Lucy and Ethel lazy or unprepared? Were they untrained? Did they need additional tools that were not available? Were they asked to do more than was humanly possible, or did they just need more time? It’s a useful analogy to consider in education conversations because these same questions are tossed around about teachers and the failure of the education system to close achievement gaps for all students.

Children need caring adults in their lives. Most American youngsters spend about half of their waking hours in schools. According to respected education researcher John Hattie, a top predictor of student achievement in school is highly-effective teachers. Turnover is significantly higher in education than in other professions, which suggests expectations exceed the capacity of teachers to keep up with the demands placed on them. The importance of pay cannot be overlooked, but it is not the only critical factor. Teachers are clear in stating their need for time and support — two things that would dramatically improve working conditions.

Curious about the two things that would improve working conditions? Read the full post here.

i love lucyImage credit: CBS

Gatrell is a Utah Teacher Fellow, a partnership between Hope Street Group and the National Network of State Teachers of the Year. She teaches high school social studies and geography in Salt Lake County’s Granite School District. Follow her on Twitter at @DeborahGatrell1.

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