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RBC I “Test cheating scandal!” “Budget cuts!” “Accreditation lost!” These are the types of headlines associated with school districts around the nation today. With issues like these mounting on the front lines of education, even the best and brightest teachers need reinforcements.
“That’s where you come in,” said Paddy Eger, a 20-year teaching veteran who also trains adult classroom volunteer assistants.“When adult assistants become part of classrooms and study groups, they help our country’s education stay strong. When all we read about education today revolves around budget cuts or the standardized test cheating scandals like in Atlanta, Ga., and Washington, D.C., it’s clear that blaming teachers is not going to yield any answers. I believe that most teachers are doing the best they can but, like what happened in Atlanta, some feel pressure by administrators to focus on hitting mandated test score goals rather than encouraging critical thinking. Add to that higher student-to -teacher ratios and it’s easy to see that something needs to be done to help our educators help our kids. So, where do we start?”
Eger, author of Educating America: 101 Strategies for Adult Assistants in K-8 Classrooms (www.paddyeger.com), believes that anyone who is concerned about the seeming downward spiral of public education can help by becoming an adult assistant.
“Children, teachers, schools, communities all benefit from the help of adult assistants,” said Eger. “Participation on this level is a viable way to promote local involvement in school districts where the main concern has become test score quotas tied to funding. When the focus on education becomes budgets and test scores, we can never go wrong by adding a more human element like this as part of the solution.”
As a veteran teacher of 20 years, Eger has seen how the sluggish economy and unfunded mandates like the “No Child Left Behind” law has left classrooms overcrowded and teachers stretched and stressed. Because performances on standardized tests are tied to funding, some teachers can be pressured into the “education of regurgitation” to meet district goals, quotas and bonuses.
“We can avoid classroom environments like those by getting involved locally as an adult assistant, whose presence allows teachers to create extra learning groups and provide one-on-one time for students,” she added.“Additional hands and minds enhance student learning and helps them reach their potential. I believe every good educator would prefer to focus on instilling a love of learning and fostering critical thinking. While that’s an admirable goal, the realities of our educational system mean that teacher must also concentrate on helping students pass standardized tests. Having another adult in the classroom can help teachers find the time to serve both masters.”
Eger said that becoming a difference-maker at your local school only requires a desire to help and any amount of consistent time you can spare.
“With a little training and a handful of strategies, most adults can successfully assist teachers in guiding students along their educational paths,” she said. “The bottom line is that the amount of time and effort to be an adult assistant is miniscule compared to the number of benefits and advantages enjoyed by the students who get that extra attention.”
About Paddy Eger
Paddy Eger is a veteran (20-year) teacher from the Edmonds School District 15 in Washington state. She has participated in classrooms as a community volunteer, a parent volunteer, a parent trainer as well as a teacher in primary and intermediate grades. Her years in the PCEP, the Parent Cooperative Education Program, as teacher and trainer created the basis for the book, Educating America: 101 Strategies for Adult Assistants in K-8 Classrooms. All the practices, suggestions and examples grew out of daily use by Paddy, other teachers, parent helpers and other adult assistants.
Paddy was graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in elementary education. Her dedication to children and her profession has resulted in her receiving two awards: a PTA Golden Acorn and a Teacher of the Month from her local educational association. Paddy is a Washington native. She and her husband have two adult children. They divide their time between Edmonds and Hood Canal and enjoy international travel as well.