I have experienced teaching as both student and teacher. Teaching effectively in the modern world, has to be one of the most difficult tasks one can do. It requires constant planning, thinking on your feet, behavior modification, and expert knowledge of the curriculum as well as the knowledge of teaching pedagogy to turn that expert knowledge into something meaningful for learners.
The best teachers seem to look at students as blank canvas’s onto which they paint their masterpiece. Student’s often have other agendas than learning, especially in middle and high school. Building positive relationships with students is essential to them feeling valued and being willing to take the risks involved with learning, good teacher’s know this and spend a lot of time trying to get to know their students.
In the beginning of the school year this can be quite overwhelming with 160-200 students to learn about in high school, each with diverse backgrounds and needs including, but not limited to: language barriers, learning disabilities, poverty, homelessness, abuse, addiction, social pressures, mental health issues, and of course motivation.
It is easy to see why according to the National Education Association (NEA) that 55 % of teachers are thinking of leaving the classroom as of 02/01/2022. It takes a special individual to handle all of this and then extra-curriculars as well such as: coaching, mentoring, being a club advisor, intervention support, IEP meetings, SST meetings, and so on and so forth. Juggling all of these responsibilities along with keeping track of discipline and makeup work can drive anyone crazy.
A great teacher can cut through all of this, almost like magic and find what is most important and focus on it. They can prioritize the needs of their students, while still implanting the learning standards in engaging and creative ways. Some teachers do this by having a near constant dialogue with the class about anything and everything, some do this by creating amazing curriculum and some do it with their personality and leadership abilities.
Most great teachers do not start out this way. The first two years of teaching are extraordinarily difficult. The ones that stick with it, have great mentors, and find ways to overcome their personal limitations are the ones who ultimately succeed.
I am personally very grateful to all my teachers for the time they put into my education. I was the student who said, would always say…. “oh when will I use that….”. Well I use it all almost everyday now as a practicing teacher, in a twist or irony.
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