Add to Google Reader or Homepage

Educator Issues: 6/3/07 - 6/10/07

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Teaching - Job, or a Commitment to be Surrogate Parent?

Today's educators recognize that their role has vastly increased from the traditional responsibility of providing academic instruction. For any who have seen the inspirational teaching films, Stand and Deliver, Dangerous Minds, and the new release, Freedom Writers, those incredible educators clearly made the difference in their students by investing their whole hearts into the students.
While families typically serve the function of nurturing children (Maslow's Heirarchy - Safety, Love, Sense of Belonging, etc), broken families lack these crucial components. The most effective teachers, therefore, attempt to meet these needs. Sometimes this can have negative impact on the teacher. In the Freedom Writers film, the teacher lost her husband primarily because of her commitment to her students. It could be argued that her commitment to students was a greater purpose than that to her husband because students outweigh the sole spouse and they were younger, therefore had greater potential to change lives (ripple effect).
It is frightening that teachers are more and more looked upon to fulfill family functions.
As a husband and father to 3 children of my own, it has become more and more difficult for me to provide the same degree of commitment to my students while maintaining my role as family man. This struggle, beyond any difficulties with behavior and school requirements, has caused me to question whether or not I will remain in education as a teacher. Is teaching just a job, or is it a full heart-level commitment? If it is more than a job, more of a family level calling, is it possible to continue in it for 20+ years until one achieves retirement? I think this is part of the reason that teacher burn-out is so common. Youthful, energetic teachers do it with a great degree of commitment and soon discover that it requires much more than a 9am to 5pm job for less pay, so they leave. No blame. Complete understanding. Even those phenomenal teachers we watch movies about seem to move on to different positions after those initial triumphant experiences. The frightening observation I've made is that this dilemma appears to be on the rise.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Education Issues Introduction

I've been teaching for 9 years. My credentials include a BA in Elementary Education with an emphasis on Behavior Disorders and an MA in Educational Studies. I've received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science Teaching for the year 2004 and many local awards including American Legion Teacher of the Year and Sam's Club Teacher of the Year. I've acquired the Toshiba America Foundation grant. I currently serve on a committee appointed by the governor of my state along with other business, political, and educational leaders from my state. Our purpose is to advance the Mathematics, Engineering, Technology, and Science fields on a state level.
My perspective in education and on life is broad. I grew up in a suburban, middle-class family and attended a public school that had a decent reputation. As a student, I detested school, considering it the nearest thing to prison for kids. I didn't enjoy learning (as presented in the classroom) until I began my university studies. I've lived in inner-city (Camden, N.J.) and worked intensively with the youth there and spent several months working in a school in Belfast, Northern Ireland. I served two years in the U.S. Army as an M1-A1 Tank driver and fought in the Persian Gulf War.
It is terribly sad to me to consider the early age at which I lost all interest in learning because I equated it to sitting behind a desk and completing a worksheet about a topic for which I cared not one bit. I came to see myself as a failure because I refused to complete all the extra work teachers wanted me to do at home. Today, I love to teach. I enjoy my students immensely and see my primary role as a motivator and one who strives to show students the great pleasure in finding things out. This blogspot will be used to share thoughts on education - public, private, and homeschool issues. I hope to explore hot topics and struggles that are faced in education on a personal level as well as the broad perspectives that impact states and the nation. I welcome thoughtful comments from all who experience education, whether it be as a student, parent, or educator.