Archive for August, 2012

So You Want to be a Teacher?


30 Aug

1.   Why might some teachers be angered by evidence that some teachers bring about higher achievement than others?
Some teachers might become angry by evidence that shows that certain teachers bring about higher achievements than other teachers for many different reasons. One possible reason could be that the lower achievement teachers might feel under appreciated because they aren’t producing the same results. The lower achieving teacher could be working hard but for some reason isn’t getting the same results as the higher achieving teacher and because of that they are feeling judged negativly even though they are putting forth a big effort. Another possible reason could be that the lower achieving teacher doesn’t know what they are doing wrong and why they aren’t able to produce better results from their students and they aren’t getting any ideas, help, suggestions or encouragement from their employer or peers. Also, I don’t think it’s fare to expect all teachers to produce the same results. Some teachers are teaching harder material than others so another reason teachers might be upset is because they are being expected to produce unrealistic results. Environment plays a big role as well, if lower income school teachers are being compared to higher income school teachers obviously the lower income teacher will not get the same results as a higher income teacher because they have a very different pool of students with different issues to deal with. If their students are coming to school hungry, tired from working a job or are worried about being shot walking home obviously those students are not going to be able to preform as academically well as students who don’t have to worry about those issues. Holding teachers all over the nation to one general achievement bar that they must meet is unrealistic because then teachers will focus on trying to get their students to memorize things so that they can produce higher results rather than actually having their students understand the material.

2. Did you know, as a high school student, that teachers “matter” in producing achievement? How? Did your friends know this?
Yes, I did know that teachers “matter” in producing achievement with high school students. I don’t know if any of my friends know this, surprisingly I don’t talk to my friends much about education or our education system. How do teachers matter? Teachers matter because they are the people who lead students to education. Teachers are responsible to give students the tools they need to succeed, teachers explain and lead students to the material that they need to learn. At an age like high school level teachers are very important when learning because not only do they need to be able to deliver the material in an understandable way but they also need to be able to “click” with their students, in other words students need to feel that the information is important to their daily lives. Teachers have to provide an environment where their students can connect with the material and also students need to feel like their opinions matter and that someone really does care what they think. Teachers need to be able to encourage and challenge their students to have their own ideas and opinions especially at the high school. After high school comes the real world and students need to know how to take the information they are using and apply it to their daily lives and they need to know how to express their opinions and stand up for what they believe in. I know that teachers are important because I believe they are the people that challenge and force their students preparing them for life after high school.

3. What might be the “causes of underachievement” that Haycock refers to? Can you support this idea from your readings for week 1?
Something that I believe is a big factor for the underachievement of teachers is the amount of money that teachers are paid. Most people say, “Don’t do a job for the money, do a job because you enjoy it” and while I agree with that statement we have to be honest with ourselves money makes a big difference and can be a huge motivation factor. We live in a backwards society. We live in a society where people who simply hit a ball across a field or bounce it around a court make millions of dollars a year, a world where people who we elect into office, who are suppose to be helping to make our country a better place, also get paid millions of dollars to sit in a big room, argue with one another, put out our countries budget past due and most of the year play golf or drink rather than do the job there were elected to do. While people who have the most hands on and time consuming jobs get paid barely enough money to live decently or support a family especially if it is a one income family. On page 9 of Foundations of Education is says, “….$40,055 for a first year teacher with a standard certificate and $77,354 for a teacher at the highest level of experience and education…Although a teacher at the top of the schedule can earn an attractive salary, starting salaries still tend to be lower than un some other professions.” Of course some, if not many, teachers are going to be underachievers because if your pay grade is based on how many years experience you have and not how well you do your job some are bound to have the attitude of “Why even bother if it won’t make a difference.” Teachers’ salaries should be based more on evaluation scores and effectiveness with students rather than based on how long they have been teaching. Another factor that I believe affects the achievement levels is that most teachers are spread way too thin. They have too much to do with not enough hours in the day, there is one of them and often 30 or more students who need their attention. We have to be able to provide teachers with the resources and assistants they need to be able to help their students. That’s why I think things like the video case we watched in class are wonderful ideas. Teachers get feedback and they get support from their peers if they are feeling discouraged. Sometimes when a teacher isn’t getting the results that they would like from their students they don’t understand why the information isn’t getting through to their students and they need a fresh pair of eyes to offer new/different ideas. If teachers do not receive this support their faith in themselves goes down and they continue to underachieve.

4. Consider this question, What makes a great teacher? (pedagogical knowledge, subject knowledge, professional dispositions?)

I think there are many different factors to being a great teacher. I do not think a someone should be deemed a great teacher based simply on how good of test scores their students are able to produce. The teachers that I always thought of as great where the teachers who took the time to listen to me. Teachers who really showed me they cared about me and what was going on in my life. Obviously I enjoyed the classes where I learned more information a lot better than I enjoyed the classes where I learned very little. Being a great teacher depends on your skill of the subject, your personality, and if you can relate to your students and really get on their level. I know a few teachers who on paper were suppose to be the “perfect” teachers. They passed all of their state exams, and got great grades in the licensing program, they knew their subject backwards and forwards but when they got into the classroom they were unable to relate to their students, unable to control their classroom and unable to deliver the information effectively. Being a good teacher is more than just being able to get your students to produce good grades, it’s about creating a safe and fun learning environment where the students feel appreciated and valued. Being a good teacher is about delivering the information effectively and if you are having trouble doing that you are brave enough to ask for help from your peers or your principal. Being a good teacher is about accepting criticism and recognizing when and in what areas you can improve your teaching skills. Getting good grades is important but producing good test scores from your students shouldn’t be the main factor that determines what makes a good teacher.

 

References:

1. Ornstein, A., Levine, D., & Gutek, G. (2011). Foundations of education. (11 ed.). Belmont: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

 

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28 Aug

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