Don't be a teacher if you don't like teaching!

Katherine - posted on 03/16/2011 ( 5 moms have responded )

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You can always tell when someone doesn’t like their job. They’re just there for the paycheck and absolutely, positively nothing more. That doesn’t make life any easier or our interactions any smoother with, say, disgruntled retail employees and city bus drivers. But when it comes to teachers, I’m going to need to see some enthusiasm about their chosen responsibility to educate and uplift children because our children's mental health depends on it.

A University of Maryland professor concluded that students who have teachers who don’t feel respected by their colleagues and don’t have access to the materials they need to learn exhibit more mental health issues than students in ideal academic environments. Apparently the lack of warm and fuzzy feelings between educators and their peers can have a trickle down effect that ends up dumping on our innocent kids.

I’ve seen teachers frazzled for one reason or another, back when I was a student in school and again when I became a parent. It’s never a pretty sight. More often than not, they’re angry about the lack of resources in their classrooms or schools, or they’re irked about their low pay, or the disproportionate number of unruly students they’re charged with that year. But lack of respect from their colleagues sets them off, too?

Teaching is super hard. I respect the heck out of an educator who can take a roomful of mouthy ankle biters from all kinds of different homes, lives, and backgrounds and actually get information conveyed to them. I taught second grade and ninth grade for a year each and fled, screaming and hollering, for the editorial world. Not everyone is cut out for it, which is exactly why it’s the kind of job that not everyone should try to do.

You have to have a passion for kids, just like a nurse should have a passion for healing or a cop should have a passion for something besides just doling out tickets and flicking on a siren to blaze through traffic. They’re all the kind of jobs that you shouldn’t jump into if you don’t really have a heart for them. But because teachers leave such a deep impression on our kids, it makes their work that much more important.

Part of the problem with our education system, and one of the reasons why 15 million high school students have graduated unable to read at a basic level, is that too many people get into the field for the wrong reasons. They need a job. They have a degree. Boom! Instant formula to become a teacher. And it takes more than that to really make the kinds of teachers that produce the kinds of students who make the kinds of leaders that we need across all fields. More kids would be successful if more teachers were sincerely committed to the mission of educating.

The inner workings of our classrooms have been researched and analyzed and turned every which way and we’re still struggling to change the academic dynamic in our ‘hoods and communities. But I can only hope that these findings don’t fall by the wayside when our kids’ mental health is at stake.

What do you think is at the root of the education problem in America? How satisfied are you with your children’s teachers and school system?

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The first time I saw my daughters teacher I thought, "Oh my God, she's 12!" She was only 22, what kind of experience could she possibly have?
It ended up not to matter because she was so good to the kids and I've seen her grow so much.

I think the root of the problem is funding, duh. And building $858 million dollar schools instead of hiring more or paying teachers more.

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There are teachers with zero experience that are fantastic. There are 25 year veteran teachers that are crappy. And vice versa...of course.

I agree with the article that teaching has to be something you love. Why else would you put up with the crap and workload that teachers deal with? I miss teaching. I really do. But I'm considering if I want to go back or not when my kids are older. I don't know if I can teach and mother to my full potential at the same time. I really admire teachers with young children at home. They must be exhausted. Maybe if I could tutor part time or something...we'll see.

And Katherine, I do agree that funding and low teacher pay are part of the problem. I think there are other issues too. Lack of support from administration, school board members that have never been teachers making decisions, trying to standardize everything, lack of parental support in some areas, etc.

Brandi - posted on 03/16/2011

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I think younger teachers are so much better. They are more able to relate to the young students. Many more reasons, but I don't really want to get into this thread too much.

Bonnie - posted on 03/16/2011

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On one hand young teachers don't have much experience, but on the other hand, they have recently come out of school, so they could possibly know more and they could have a lot more patience compared to the older ones. Just like with any job, they gotta start somewhere.

Jenni - posted on 03/16/2011

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I'm not gonna respond too much to this one because I started a thread similar to this one.

But I think young teachers are the best!! They are fresh and not so jaded. Growing up I always learned the most from young teachers because they were so enthusiastic and creative. :)

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