Parallels in Teaching and the Presidency

Parallels in Teaching and the Presidency

I’ve spent a lot of time as a teacher. In fact, I’ve been in the field actively for over fifteen years. My teaching experience includes every subject you can think of and every age group from Kindergarten right up to adults.

I’ve served in many different capacities from teacher to supervisor/ vice principalship to mentor of new teachers, behavioral intervention specialist and others ultimately earning tenure.

But what I have not had much experience with is politics. I’ve truly never had an interest due to the fact that I could see literally every politician lie and cheat to further themselves or their businesses on a local and national level.

So I never had much interest in learning about the arguments of each “side” (of course, as everyone intuitively knows, both the left and right wings belong to the same creature). I couldn’t have told you the difference between a liberal and a conservative or anything else.

I’m registered Independent because I don’t want to be put in a box and feel compelled to choose a candidate based on party loyalty because that sounds pretty shallow to me.

I was only concerned about policy and, honestly, nine out of ten times the choices were the equivalent of a rock and a hard place.

But last years’ presidential election was a learning experience for me and I took notice of what was going on and the workings of the parties as well.

In doing so I not only learned about politics, but I couldn’t help but draw some parallels between what had gone on with presidencies and my occupation as a teacher.

I’ve watched teachers from a unique perspective as a mentor, having seen teachers grow from relative novices to confident and capable teachers.

Sometimes.

Other times, I had to watch people just not cut out for the job hopelessly flounder.

I thought back to Jimmy Carter and his well meaning but sort of weak presidency, marred by failures like the hostage crisis. Here was a parallel where the teacher (President) led almost accidentally out of the pure fact that the position was his.

Then there’s Ronald Reagan, who was sort of like watching a retired general walk into the classroom. Not looking to make friends, looking to do business and not listen to a lick of backtalk, Reagan strutted his stuff with the air of a cool, collected character.

Along came Bill Clinton and he was able to accomplish a lot of things like whittling away on the national debt. Unfortunately, Bill did well only until a number of extracurricular activities with the faculty and staff marred his accomplishments forever.

The second President Bush was like the teacher who came through and made jokes with you, tried to give you a laugh and still get things done. Of course, never materializing weapons of mass destruction and arguably unwinnable and unnecessary wars were akin to the teacher who went off on endless tangents and wasted a lot of valuable classroom time.

Eight years ago or so, President Obama took office and promised hope and change for one and all. Not a wholly original political promise, he came across kind of as the substitute teacher everyone made fun of.

Indeed, the entire classroom became quite unruly. Leaders of other classrooms even poked their heads in the door to watch the mayhem.

They saw students throwing balls of paper and shooting spitballs at his head whenever he turned around to teach. They saw some of his students insult him right to his face without him even taking action to defend himself.

And the lack of respect the students had for him gave him a reputation with the other teachers as the weakest teacher in the entire school.

He did make one slightly bold move to try and give a hard time to one of the other classroom teachers, but was simply laughed at and told formally and publicly that his substitute teaching gig was over soon and they couldn’t wait for the real teacher to return.

And, at the time of this writing, the teacher doesn’t return for a few more weeks.

But you can see that the students know a return to strict classroom management is on the horizon.

Without even taking office, Donald J. Trump has commanded the respect of his classroom by returning thousands and thousands of jobs to the classroom before he even writes his name on the board for the first time.

Students and teachers from other classrooms can clearly see what is going on and are falling into line, getting ready to deal with a true leader who will stand for no shenanigans.

On January 20, 2017, President Trump will have a batch of new assignments and even some extra credit for those willing to work hard. He’ll also be handing out tardy slips, demerits and detention for those not willing to be part of the student body.

Already, we see a line of students sitting quietly in their seats with their hands folded and the floors and classroom area neat and tidy. This is a great sign of a well run and efficient classroom environment.

We’ve had a couple hundred years of same old same old politics and enormous disappointment. Or, as Obama has said, “Okie Doke”.

Now, with Trump, we will have a confident if unconventional leader at the head of the classroom.

There’s no reason to feel negative about this, in fact, it’s the first time in my life I’ve felt enthusiastically optimistic about a President and for the ultimate potential of the country we love and live in.

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