My Two Cents: A Teacher’s Perspective on Education

September 6, 2013 by

You can not compare teaching today to teaching back then.

These days, it seems like everyone has an opinion about something in the education field.  Why does the majority of the population feel they are so knowledgable on a profession in which they have no experience? I am guessing it is because they went to school.  Which seems ridiculous to me.  I have been to a medical center, but I don’t automatically know everything about the medical field.  I could keep going, but I will spare you.

I recently encountered yet another questioning about my field.  I was asked how I like my new school.  I was very positive, and mentioned the fact that I now have more parental support.

After a fine berating on public education and the problems with teachers today…

She states, “Back in the day, it was the teacher’s job to make sure the kids could read and write.  It was also the teacher’s job to make sure the students were tutored after school to ensure the kids that were not falling behind.  We reviewed our phonics and math facts everyday.  Our teachers were different than teachers today.”

I could see where this was going.

In my head, I called bologna, and put my face in my palm.  But I just listened to the blatant ignorance.

Here is what I really thought:

#1 I have taught in a school with a 95% ELL/Low SES population.  It was OUR job to make sure the kids could read and understand many other skills in literacy and in math.  Parental support was great, but it was very rare.

#2 For the record, I have taught phonics and math facts since I have been a teacher.  This is not a thing of the past.

#3  The school I teach in now has parental support.  This increases the child’s chances of being college and career ready regardless of whether the teacher is equipped with learning and engagement strategies.  The partnership between educators and parents is invaluable.

#4  Parents should support their children in their education.  They made a choice to have a child, and if they think the extent of their child’s education should stop in a classroom, then they are not taking full responsibility of their choice.

#5  Back in the day, kids did not have to continue school past high school to be successful.  The competitiveness was not as fast-paced.  You could live on a job where you only needed a high school education.

#6  Things change.  Kids change.  Imagine a teacher from ‘back then’ try to teach a class full of kids that have been exposed to tablets, on-demand television, and video games….a class full of kids who have already had a taste of the instant gratification and control of any activity of their choosing from these devices.  I would imagine they may have to refine some of their practices.

Now if you still think teachers today are not as effective as teachers back in the day, go ahead.  But before you pass your judgement on me, spend one day in my classroom.  (Or any effective teacher’s classroom for that matter.)  Come see my strategic grouping and the skills I push and embed into our every minute of instruction.  If you happen to notice, count how many times I interact with each of my students in fifteen minutes.  Come see how I can get my entire class working collaboratively and cooperatively.  This is all is a result of good classroom management and refusal to accept anything but a child’s best.  Not everybody can do it, but there are many teachers today who are more than equipped with the tools to help children succeed.

It looks easy, doesn’t it?    My classroom is the type of classroom you might walk into and say, “Teachers have it so easy.”

To the inexperienced, they may not recognize how much work went into getting to that point.   I challenge you to take the reins for a day and see how things really are.  Truth is, not everybody can be a teacher. I have seen many teachers have to leave the field because they just didn’t have that formula to be effective.  They left because they knew they were not the best for kids.  In particular, this includes many second career changers who were very successful and chose to teach to get more out of life.  I have seen even them resign or leave after one year.

Combine an effective teacher with supportive parents, and you get college and career ready students.  I am not saying the kids without parental support will not succeed, but, they are going to face many challenges.  Statistically speaking, they are going to have to beat the odds.

Teachers today and teachers back then have so many great qualities, but it would be hardly fair to try to compare the two.  It is like trying to compare apples and oranges. It is unfortunate, but people fail to realize that the ability to teach is very technical.  They do not see all the small things you do while you are on stage to keep things running smoothly.  As I reflect on how I reacted to the comment, I am really disappointed that  I did not speak up.  I should have advocated for teachers.  At least I know I will be prepared next time.  I will be ready, and I hope you will have your “two cents” as well.

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