PBS Editor’s note: President Donald Trump’s son, Donald Jr., addressed his father’s campaign rally in El Paso, Texas, on Monday night, instructing young conservatives “to keep up that fight, bring it to your schools. You don’t have to be indoctrinated by these loser teachers that are trying to sell you on socialism from birth.”
“His remarks prompted many responses by teachers on social media. Kristin Karnitz is not a teacher (she is a customer service account manager and mother from De Pere, Wisconsin). But, counting many educators in her family, she penned an op-ed in defense of the profession, an edited version of which appears below.” PBS Editor
ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key
Excerpt: Teachers aren’t losers. They’re lifesavers. By Kristin Karnitz, PBS
“During President Trump’s rally Monday night in El Paso, Donald Trump Jr. took to the podium. I caught a clip of his speech that made my heart stop momentarily, then pound with the rage of a boxer hitting a punching bag.
‘Keep up that fight. Bring it to your schools. You don’t have to be indoctrinated by these loser teachers that are trying to sell you on socialism from birth,’ he said.
There have been many, many moments during this administration that have broken me. But this one, for some reason, hit me particularly hard.
Maybe it’s my mood, maybe it’s the endless winter weather, maybe it’s something I ate. Maybe it’s because the very foundation of our education system was being attacked. I felt sick.
I come from a long line of loser teachers. I am the granddaughter of a loser teacher. The niece of loser teachers. The cousin of loser teachers. The sister of a loser teacher. The friend of many loser teachers.
Once upon a time, I wanted to be a loser teacher too. But when I approached that point in my college life to choose that track, I bailed. I wasn’t strong enough. I wasn’t selfless enough. I wasn’t loser enough.
You see, being a loser teacher requires a stamina that I recognized fairly early that I wasn’t cut out for, at least when I was 20 years old and trying to navigate my future.
I think of the loser teachers in our country, and what it takes to be them. Though not a loser teacher, let me take a stab at educating all the non-teacher ‘winners.’
Summers off is a myth. Many teachers work second jobs, or teach summer school. Most of this is to supplement their income.
And a chunk of that, their own money, is reinvested into their classrooms. When budgets are tight, and a first grade teacher needs a rug for her kids to sit on at group lesson time, she buys her own.
Many teachers keep a stash of food in their cabinet that they bought on their own, to sneak a granola bar to a young one who came to school that morning without breakfast. A hungry child has a tough time learning…
Short work days? A school day may be around 7 hours for the kids. Loser teachers are there well before and after.
They are spending evenings writing lesson plans and grading papers. There are staff meetings, extracurriculars they lead, presentations and continuing education classes that are required to maintain their jobs and licenses.
The responsibility of a loser teacher extends far beyond standing in front of a classroom sharing a lesson.
Teachers are expected to wear more hats than most of us could ever dream of putting on.
Teachers are not just educators. They are counselors…Teachers are not just educators. They are surrogate parents. There are so many kids from broken homes and unstable situations. A hug from a teacher may be the only time a child receives a gentle touch of love that day. A word of encouragement or a high five in the hallway may be the only direct acknowledgement a child receives that week.
A pair of mittens may find their way into the locker of a student that would otherwise have cold hands on the playground and walk home…Teachers are not just educators. They save lives. In a world where active shooter drills are now practiced regularly in our schools, teachers need to be on alert at all times. They are the protectors of these young lives. When the unthinkable happens, some have made the ultimate sacrifice.
They have taken a bullet for children that aren’t even their own. Can any of you non-losers say you’d do the same?
So just to summarize today’s lesson here: Teachers are not just educators. They are everyday angels among us. They deserve our support, our respect and our unyielding gratitude.”
ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post
NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.
Level: Intermediate – Advanced
Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.
Time: Approximately 2 hours.
Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.
Objective: Students will read and discuss the article with a focus on improving reading comprehension and improving oral skills. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.
I. Pre-Reading Activities
Stimulating background knowledge: Brainstorming
Directions: Place students in groups, ask students to think about what they already know about the topic Teaching/Teachers. Next, have students generate ideas or words that may be connected to the article. Regroup as a class and list these ideas on the board. Students can use the Brainstorming Map by rentonschools.us for assistance.
II. While Reading Activities
Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.
- Teachers are lifesavers.
- The speaker took to the podium.
- Our education system was being attacked.
- Teaching requires a stamina.
- When I approached that point in my college life to choose that track, I bailed.
- I wasn’t selfless enough.
- I was 20 years old and trying to navigate my future.
- Let me take a stab at educating all the non-teacher ‘winners.’
- Summers off is a myth.
- Teachers are surrogate parents.
Grammar Focus: Structure and Usage
Directions: The following groups of sentences are from the article. One of the sentences in each group contains a grammatical error. Students are to identify the sentence (1, 2, or 3 ) from each group that contains the grammatical error.
- Donald Trump Jr. took to the podium.
- I felt sick.
- I come about a long line of loser teachers.
- Summers off is an myth.
- Many teachers keep a stash of food in their cabinet.
- Teachers are spending evenings writing lesson plans and grading papers.
- Teachers are expected to wear more hats than most of us could ever dream of putting on.
- They have taken a bullet for children that aren’t even their own.
- They are surrogate parents.
Directions: Place students in groups and after they have read the entire article, have them complete the following sentencestaken from the article. They can use the words and terms from the list provided, or provide their own terms. They are to find the meanings of any new vocabulary.
Teachers ___students to embrace___, and to avoid name calling, so I will take a lesson from the great___I’ve had throughout my life, and resist countering this___attack with___. It is taking every fiber of my being to do so. But I had good loser teachers who would want me to take the high road. So in___of them, I will.
Instead, I raise a glass to the loser teachers in our country. May we all ___to attain your level of loserdom. Our nation is in sore need of more___, amazing losers like you.
WORD LIST: strive, honor, meanness, ridiculous, educators, kindness, encourage,wonderful
III. Post Reading Activities
Directions: Have students use the WH-question format to discuss or to write the main points from the article.
Who or What is the article about?
Where does the action/event take place?
When does the action/event take place?
Why did the action/event occur?
How did the action/event occur?
Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing
Directions: Place students in groups and have them discuss the following questions/statements. Afterwards, have the groups share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the topics mentioned.
- What is Ms. Karnitz’s profession?
- Why did she write this article defending teachers?
- Who made the awful remark against teachers?
- Karnitz states, “There have been many, many moments during this administration that have broken me.” What administration is she talking about?
- What was the real reason this particular remark made Ms. Karnitz ‘feel sick’?
- What reasons does Ms. Karnitz give for not becoming a teacher?
- Ms. Karnitz provides a list of all the wonderful selfless things teachers choose to do to help their kids. What are some of them?
- Do you know teachers (especially those working with young children)? How do they feel about their professions?
- After reading this article do you think you would like to become a teacher? Why or why not?
- What do you think of Ms. Karnitz’s ideas about teachers?
- After reading this article name some new ideas that you have learned about the teaching profession.
Directions: Choose one of the topics for an essay and share them with the class.
Write an essay in which you describe a kindness that a teacher has shown you or someone that you know.
Write an essay explaining why teachers in the United States deserve better salaries and more respect.
Directions: In 5 minutes to write down three new ideas you’ve learned about the topic from the reading (feel free to use the information from question 11 in your reading group) two things that you did not understand in the reading, and one thing you would like to know that the article did not mention. Review the responses as a class.