What if….

This guest post was written by Lynda Wade Sentz, author of Write With Me: Partnering With Parents in Writing Instruction . Sentz is an elementary school teacher in New York. Read below for her reflection as part of our Tales from a Teacher’s Heart series. The following is available on my publisher’s website,

Other  Tales from the Teacher’s Heart (including one I submitted) can be found on The following blog post:

skyI ended my teaching day one Friday, asking myself what I had accomplished that week. Perhaps more to the point, what had my students accomplished? What did I teach them? What did they learn? Did they learn? Friday reflections not only help me take stock of the week that was, they also help me gear up for the week that is coming. Fourth grade is a huge year academically. Our curriculum is heavy – so much for nine-year-old scholars, so anxious to turn “double digits,” to master.

This one particular Friday, my mind kept turning over what was reality and what I wish could be for my students. I started to wonder how the week might be different if certain conditions were met. Then I began pondering how the bigger picture – education for our nation – might be different if only so many small things were different. I wasn’t thinking about a bigger, better school or a box of new textbooks. I wasn’t wishing for new classroom furnishings or a larger paycheck. I wasn’t wondering what I would do if only I had more technology. The thoughts I had that day still linger.

What if…
…every student came to school well-rested and well-fed?
…every student arrived at the classroom ready to learn?
…every student came in to the classroom eager to learn?
…every student listened attentively, even eagerly, like someone important is speaking?

What if every child spent more time each day reading than watching television?
What if every child grew up in an environment where learning is valued?
What if every student’s life outside school was filled to the brim with enriching experiences?
What if every student tried their hardest every day on every task?
What if every child realized the great gift that education offers and eagerly accepted that gift?

What if…
…teachers didn’t need to teach students good manners?
…teachers didn’t have to instruct proper hand-washing and nose-blowing?
…teachers only needed to prepare to teach academics?

What if every teacher gave 100 percent effort every day?
What if teachers weren’t encouraged to teach to standardized tests?
What if there was no need for unions?
What if every teacher realized that educating the children of today is a gift for our nation’s tomorrow?

What if…
…all parents realized that they are their child’s first teacher and reveled in that responsibility?
…all parents read to their children each day, even after they can read by themselves?
…all parents exuded a passion for learning and shared that passion with their child?
…all parents made it their mission to raise productive citizens?

What if all parents filled their child’s leisure time with meaningful experiences?
What if all parents talked — really engaged in meaning-filled conversations — with their child?
What if all parents were deeply interested and deeply involved in their child’s education?
What if no parents saw their child’s education as being solely “the teacher’s job?”

Maybe if all the “what ifs” were answered, there would be no crisis in education today. There would be no need to assess and re-assess on a standardized state test. Maybe we wouldn’t all be “waiting for Superman.” Maybe we would realize that Superman lies within all of us, whether we be teacher, student or parent.