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Saturday, February 25, 2006

Once you leave the idealism of college, you encounter real life.

My school has a type of online forum where current students, alumni, and faculty/staff can post. It is mostly inhabited by students and alumni, though a few faculty members post occasionally.

For the past couple weeks, I have been reading a discussion going on between a group of alumni who are currently teachers in various states throughout the US.

One teacher, a graduate from several years ago, wrote the following after a particularly frustrating day:
"Hey undergrads, no matter how awesome and inspiring and cute ProfessorA and ProfessorB are, do NOT become teachers. I swear."

When I first read it, I laughed aloud. ProfessorA and ProfessorB are incredibly awesome and inspiring and cute. They make you want to plow past all the troubles that you know you will encounter and be that liberal-minded idealistic teacher that they are encouraging you to become.

But then after I stopped laughing and reread the quote, it made me feel really sad. Why is it that teachers are put in positions where they are made to feel so let down and pessimistic? I know most jobs are going to have days where it just doesn't really feel worth all the trouble. But lately, all the alumni posting in the forum have been sounding increasingly cynical about their effectiveness and value as a teacher. The testing, the lack of respect, the huge class sizes. The reality of it all is wrenching the "education student idealism" out of them.

I'm not entirely sure what the point I am trying to make is. I just know that it makes me feel sad to hear that conditions are so universally uncomfortable and problematic.

How would it affect us (the education students) if we heard more about those problems on a specific individual level? Of course, we all read Kozol, we read newspaper articles, we know there are problems out there. And we're in the education program because we want to fix it. We want to make it at least a little better for a few students. We want to be able to say that at least the students in our class will have a caring, supportive, enthusiastic teacher. But what happens if that's drained out of us by the opposition we face? Can we still be the teachers that ProfessorA and ProfessorB have encouraged us to be?


Blogger robtherunner said...

Well said. I am a college student as well and will begin my Master's in Education program this summer and wonder at times if I am making the right decision. The reasons you listed for becoming a teacher are how I feel as well, but I hear a lot of the negativity about the teaching field as well and it makes me think a little bit deeper about what kind of teacher I want to be.

3:58 PM  
Blogger elementaryhistoryteacher said...

I don't care what kind of teacher you want to be you will always strive to be that person. Too many things are thrown at you minute by minute, day by day, week by week, month by month, and eventualy year in and year out to continually be that ideal teacher you envisioned in college. The grime of the real world begins to leave stains and it does change your outlook about different things. Overall though my goal has remained the same...provide interesting, motivating lessons----be fair to each student---and try to meet their individual needs. One day I absolutely hate my job while the next day I absolutely love it. It goes with the territory.

8:23 PM  
Blogger AshleyS said...

I really enjoyed your ideas here. I too am studying education and have just began my experiences in the classroom! You even inspired me to write a little bit about your last blog entry and take these ideas a little bit farther! Check it out: http://ashleyteach.blogspot.com/

11:08 PM  
Anonymous Rebecca said...

As a six year teacher I have been where you sit. I will tell you that after a few years of feeling discouraged, I have finally discoverd that it is all about me. What perspective do I wake up with each morning? Am I going to listen to the old hags in the lounge who hate life? Am I going to let the silly rules of the principals anger me? Or am I going to dwell on the fact that I have awesome students. That every day some kid knows that I love them. That maybe not 10, maybe not 5, but maybe just one student will go away from my World History class with a lesson they will never forget. It is a choice that I have to make every day. Some days I make the wrong choice. But after all this time, I am finally content, because I CHOOSE to be.

3:31 PM  
Blogger nick said...


6:03 AM  

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