by Del Hansen, NM Teacher of the Year and Golden Apple Volunteer
The Summer Olympics are just around the corner, and one cannot help but admire the dedication, tenacity, and determination of the participants.Â As I trundle down the halls at Camino Real Middle School (Las Cruces), I often think about the similarities between Olympians and my teaching colleagues around the state.Â It is true that not everyone is as ripped with muscles as a Romanian gymnast or lithe and supple as a springboard diver, but the people I see and with whom I interact are equally dedicated, tenacious, and determined as are the athletes in London.Â (As I say this, I am having serious guilt pangs about gulping my 500 calorie vanilla bean frappuccino this afternoon.Â Lucky for me, that feeling just went away.)
The public needs to realize, quite apart from bombastic tirades on talk shows and radio, that most teachers are dedicated to their profession almost to the point of being detrimental to their own family life.Â They love what they do; they love kids; and they love learning.Â Olympians love what they do and must be committed to their quest.Â So it is with teachers.Â They must tenaciously claw away at the fetters that hobble a studentâ€™s ability to learn.Â They must be determined to run the race even if the odds of them winning, or even finishing, are against them.Â Great teachers, the ones whom I visited as a member of evaluation teams for Golden Apple and the ones who are out there, unsung and unnoticed, know that education doesnâ€™t end on May 23 each year.Â It is a lifetime experience that cannot be extinguished until the heart stops beating.
One of my favorite events of the Olympics is the marathon.Â It is a grueling twenty-six mile run though a city and the countryside, ending in Olympic Stadium to the cheers of thousands of spectators.Â Education is a marathon.Â You try to pace yourself the best you can, but you inevitably speed up, slow down, fall, get up, and, scratched and bleeding, triumphantly advance to the finish line at the end of the school year.Â What we have done the past decade is redefine and reconfigure the marathon into an interminable series of sprints, in which students and teacher run frenetically to a series of data-collecting tests, only to pant and wheeze for a few minutes before sprinting to the next short-range destination.Â In theory, eventually, you will get to the finish line.Â However, in doing so, education loses its grace, pacing, and artistry.Â We have lost much by ignoring the fact that a childâ€™s education is a marathon, not the limit, as x approaches infinity, of a series of sprints.
Next blog:Â The â€œPlate Man of Argentinaâ€