Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Out of the box, but into a Tupperware: Something for all of the teachers out there.

I've been doing some thinking about the state of our economy and job market, more specifically my job market . . . which is education.

It's a hot topic these days and nobody seems too sure what the real outcome is going to be for our American education system.  I have some fully formed thoughts on the subject, and other free half-baked ideas floating around as well, but the biggest question I have is this: why can't we view education like we view all of the other really important jobs in our country? 

Education is so important because it literally shapes how our society will run as our country grows and changes with time. Yet there is more bullshit in the education system than half of the other industries I know of. 

We need teachers that will utilize tools like the internet, and also get down on the same level as their students in order to get them to think for themselves and really be phenomenal problem solvers. Because, lets face it, this country has got problems. And I'm not insulting America, every nation has major issues that need to be worked out. It's in the history books, it's humanity. It comes with being alive. Life has issues.

But we'll never get anywhere if we can't teach children how to think outside of the box in order to solve issues. 

Standardized tests will NOT teach children how to problem solve, cooperate and work together in a crisis situation. These aren't just skills one needs in order to run a country properly, they're skills one needs in your everyday office job, where the work keeps piling and you have an inexperienced team and a deadline looming in the future. 

Students who graduate from  communication, law, and journalism programs are required to complete several full internships, but most education students only need to student teach twice in an environment where there is a lot of hand holding. 

So how do you fake it to make it, if you aren't sure what faking it even feels like? 

Why do we preach out of the box teaching, then criticize it when it's not done to a certain standard. 

I understand that tenure was put into effect to protect teachers but I disagree with making it impossible to fire an incompetent teacher just because they have some level of seniority.

If we are going to preach about teachers being creative and confident in their jobs, then we really need to take a stand and push for that quality of teaching in our schools and in life. 

It is so important that we teach children how to think for themselves because I feel like politics right now is bogged down by too many opinions. 

You can't please everyone, you need to just do what works. Hands on teaching WORKS. I've seen it work. You can't put observable and measurable terms on a spark you find in a child's eye when something clicks. Or when a child runs home to tell their mother what they did in school.

Hands on teaching is not an approach to be stowed away as a last resort, you need to keep trying new things, every day and when you find something that works, not just stick with it, keep trying new things. Like a writer trying new techniques and styles, a teacher needs to be down with the newest exercises and trends. A teacher needs to be informed, and when they're not they need to be actively searching for information. ALL THE TIME. A teacher needs to throw themselves into working with the hardest kids and not give up until they GET THROUGH, even if it's in one little way. A good teacher never gives up on being a phenomenal at what he/or she does. It does not work like that.

Teaching is not just an occupation, it's a burning passion, just like any job within the arts. It takes creativity and focus. It takes control, and having the ability to make an executive decision. It takes knowing when something isn't working. 
It's like painting a picture, realizing it doesn't work, but then starting over again. 

Artists do it. Writers do it. Teachers, REAL teachers do that too. Their children are their masterpieces. 

Real and true teachers, also like those starving artists, do not really care that much for getting credit. Yes, it's nice, but it's also realized that a job well not will not always come with two pats on the back and a pay raise. 

Sometimes it comes with knowing your students will be able to confidently speak in public . . . 
or . . . be able to speak at all. 

Sometimes it's enough to know that your students will be intelligent enough to accept other people's opinions even though they don't always agree with them. 

Sometimes it's enough. But should it be? 

The system NEEDS to change because our nation, our world changes. Every day it changes but there are still so many schools that are years behind. 

It's not enough to just acknowledge we need to do something, we need to use our voice, we need to not be afraid to take risks and do what we need to in order to fulfill the duty as a good teacher. 

So please, even if you aren't a news reader, just try to read one article about what's going on with our education system, just be the least bit informed, because when it's time to vote, when it's time to actually say what we want for the education of our nation's children, we need to know what the ask for. 
Thanks :)

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