15 April 2008

It's Not a Job, It's an Adventure

If you have the time (about 17 minutes worth), I recommend listening to a "Tell Me More" broadcast over on NPR entitled Teachers Stumped by Budget, Discipline. It is billed as follows: Budget shortfalls and constant discipline issues are driving an alarming number of teachers out of the classroom. A roundtable of teachers talk about how they cope with these obstacles, and how these challenges will affect the future of the American education system.

At the table are two young male teachers, and a woman with over 30 years of classroom experience. Obviously, they have had very different experiences and viewpoints about the work. The woman believes that one must be "called" to the profession in order to be successful. I really disagree with this, although I hear this particular old saw quite a bit. The problem with it is that we tell our kids all the time that they can find success anywhere they choose as long as they are willing to make the effort...and then we turn around and say that only special people can teach. Do we tell ineffective classroom teachers that they must not have received some magical and ethereal message and that's why they do such poor work---or do we identify areas of improvement and support them? The men involved with the discussion are much more concrete about the issues involved with public education and teacher dissatisfaction: student discipline, poor working conditions, etc. While specifying these issues doesn't make it any easier to solve them, it is a start. Giving them a little national attention certainly can't hurt.


mrskedu said...

In response I'd like to point out, you say,"if they are willing to make the effort." I would point back to your previous post on 14 April 2008. Do you mean if they are willing to do their homework? If you expect poor teachers to put forth the effort, should you also expect ALL students to do the same?

Clix said...

I think it depends on how you're defining "successful." A skilled, conscientious individual can certainly do great things in a classroom, regardless of a "calling." But those who feel called may find more meaning in the work.

The Science Goddess said...

In either case, Ms. K., if someone isn't meeting expectations than some kind of intervention is necessary. Student-wise, there are all kinds of things one can do (other than assigning zeros) to encourage the types of classroom behaviors we as teachers value and want to see. Teachers can certainly be expected to perform, too.