By: Hal Clary, POE Government Relations
As an educator with 40 years in the classroom I know the importance of having students in the classroom. When I ask students about school, they say they want to be in class. The last two years have shown us how much students are missing when they have to be at home on a Chrome book. As a teacher and parent, I would much prefer my kids be at school with a “guest educator” to speak to them about real world uses of education verses being at home looking at a screen telling themselves they’re learning.
Can you imagine how impactful it would be to listen to a plumber explain how they use math to determine how to plumb a house, figure angles and calculate the bill; or how they use science when calculating something like the height of those pipes that stick out of your roof so your toilet flushes properly.
How eye opening could it be to have your student listen to a home builder speak about how they work with future home owners, deal with city ordinances or negotiate with contractors. Listening to a veterinary tech, a truck driver or maybe a concrete contractor could provide valuable insight on how a student could use their education. And, I haven’t even begun to discuss occupations that have an advanced degree.
I know the “guest educator” program is not the long-term answer to our teacher shortage but it helps keep the school doors open and the young people of Oklahoma learning. And just maybe, it will help students get the real-world answer to, “When will I ever use this?”
Learning doesn’t always come in the traditional way but if the community steps in to help short term, maybe there will be a long-term desire to partner with schools in ways that weren’t there before because of a lack of understanding. I applaud the work of our communities, leaders and administrators for their efforts in the short term while long-term solutions are being sought.
I just finished a week-long substitute assignment at Stuart Public Schools with the blessings of Professional Oklahoma Educator’s (POE) Executive Director Ginger Tinney. As important as it was to the school to have a substitute for their students, the opportunity was just as important to me. As a member of POE’s government relations team, how can my discussions at the Capitol be relevant if I don’t stay in contact with teachers, students and administrators?
I would encourage anyone to sign up and be active in a local school as a substitute, tutor, volunteer or reader. By doing so, you can become part of the solution instead of merely talking about the problem.
You can read more about Mr. Clary when he taught at Noble Public Schools.