Monday, September 17, 2007

There are some things a teacher education program can never prepare you for.

Let's face it. We can teach you the theory, the history, etc. We can teach you how to develop curriculum, write appropriate lesson plans, help you to understand the needs of different learners, use assessments wisely, etc. But there are some things we can never teach you how to do. We can tell you our own experiences, we can brainstorm solutions. But, it's all different once you are out in the real world.

I could talk about some of what I've learned as a teacher, but I'd rather share the reflections of a second year teacher here. I came across this a few minutes ago. It's worth the read. And it really does the job of posing an important question: What is the relationship between schools and US society?

40 comments:

PuppyPetPeeve said...

It really was worth the read. I couldn't help thinking what must be going on in the lives of the children who are not so open with her? I mean, you really never know, even if everything looks honky dory on the outside.

Soon to be History Teacher said...

With being a teacher you become more than that, you are seen as a guardian in a sense, I knew teachers that you could go to and just talk. They would sit there listen and give advice on what you should do, and on many occasions (if needed) would take action themselves to see that things would change.

There in lies the problem, how do you handle seeing 200 students a day all with situations outside school and not baby or favor a student, and is it fair if you do decide to do so?

I think its extremely difficult to decide weather or not to let things slide with students, yes life happens, and when it does it can sometimes be very painful. But life is sometimes that hard, do you insist on the student trying their hardest and making sure they do what they need to in school? In "Grown up world" you have to, or do you let them slide a little?

Edubabbler said...

Many people's definition of fairness is that everyone gets the same. That is based on the assumption that everyone is the same. Fairness concerns what people need. If a student needs extra help, do you say no because it wouldn't be fair to other students? No, you help. You make up for it other times with other students.

wallacek1 said...

The title of the article says it all. These are situations that many teachers aren't prepared for, but are forced to deal with everyday. How you respond to these occurrances can dictate how you effect the students lives outside of the halls of learning. You will not help out everyone, but will help out some of them.

Edubabbler said...

The trouble is always deciding how far to go. In some cases, it's an issue of legality, in others, it's simply what's got to be done. As teachers, we have tough choices to make. And those choices are one of the many things that keeps us up at night.

monk said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
crazy teachy said...

I agree puppypetpeeve- totally worth the read. When I was in high school (not too long ago) I too was faced with real-life issues. School is no longer play dates, who to trade lunches with or book reports. In today's day and age, we as future teachers to these current day students will be faced with real-life situations. Damaged home lives, corrupted relationships, multiple after school jobs to help pay the bills...we are dealing with students who have to take care of themselves far earlier than it was just a few years ago. So what is it? Is the world a more jaded or are we spiraling into more and more issues or is there light on the horizon? For second year teacher..I hope so.

Amy said...

The experiences that this teacher went through are not too foreign to me. I went through some tough times as a student in high school and my teachers were some of the only people there for me. As a teacher I hope I can be the same support that my teachers were for me. I know that there are outside forces sometimes that will interfere with the students learning. I know I will be an understanding teacher because I had great role models as a student. These situations are not easy to deal with but I feel I am some what prepared for them since I was on the opposite end only a few years ago.

monk said...

There are going to be situations that teachers aren't going to be prepared for. Sometimes teachers are not sure on how far they can go because of legal issues. Teachers do have choices to make and a lot of the time it is in the grey area.

balla59 said...

This was an interesting read that i feel all teachers should read this. i say this because there are far to many teachers who simply overload kids with work and tell the students to leave their personal lives at the door. this is simply not possible for a student at the high school level. and for someone who plans to be a teacher I am happy to see this written somewhere because this style of teacher is what i would like to become. one who understands that sometimes life outside of school is more impotent then what they are learning now

Music Teacher said...

there is a strong relationship between school and US society. Since a teacher sees a student everyday for most of the year, the teacher has no choice but to be affected by their students lives. A teacher should be a positive role model for their students, and should make an attempt to make a positive change in the society they teach in.

Jimmy Shoez said...

I have read a few articles like this one and have heard a number of life stories like that and they all make me sick. America is put on a pedestal by the world and is concerned about foreign affairs when in fact it doesn't even take care of it's own people. We (as a country) need to get our priorities straight.

Musical Risa's Educational Thoughts said...

I think as education students we do not even begin to think of the reality of where our students are coming from. Not every student has the picture perfect family and the happiest home life. As a matter of fact, most don't. As teachers we need to put that into perspective. A student who is not doing well on an assignment (or in their academic work as a whole) doesn't have to be that student who just does not care and is lazy. A lot of students face those issues mentioned in the linked blog. I don't know how I would react to a story like the football student who couldn't get health care, or the student whose brother was shot. I do know that my role as a teacher is to educate, but not only that. Teachers are there to be role models, supporters, and to encourage. If those kind of situations came my way in my teaching career, I would do my best to help the student as much as I can so that they can grow and learn.

tarantism said...

I believe as well that it is our own experiences and the ones we learn from others that bring us to new understanding and knowledge. Not taking in to perspective what is going on in the lives of your students as well as their minds is taking away from your connection to them. If we want our students to succeed we need to understand where they are coming from in order to lend them support and advice. How often do teachers take a step back and look at their class as not just students but everyday people.

Mini-Spero said...

I find it disturbing that the blogger of the Daily Kos has faced these three problems so early into the school year. What's worse is that these outside factors are interfering with his attempts to teach. For example, how could the girl whose brother was shot possibly be expected to keep up with her work load? Urban teachers face enormous obstacles ; how does one motivate a student to study protons and neutrons when the gang violence that threatens their loved ones...? It raises a lot of questions.

KinaWahine said...

Teaching is more than just instructing students to learn the constitution or know the capitals of each state. Teaching gets personal, it gets fuzzy and we as teachers need to understand that what we say and do effects lives. The posting at Daily Kos was inspiring. I look forward to having students trust me like his students obviously do. Even though I love history I want to be a teacher to not only further education but help children become more well-rounded individuals and help prepare them for the real world.

fitforlife said...

Teaching itself is a whole new learning experience. I am currently going to school for teaching and I was thinking about teaching in urban schools.

writebrain said...

This posting echoes what I have already heard from other teachers, even those in "good" schools.
Last year I had to interview a teacher for a class project and one of my questions was, what quality she felt was most important for a teacher to have.
She told me that it is important to strive for consistency in her own behavior because for many of the students, there is no consistency in their home lives. She commented that empathy and patience were the most important qualities for her and that these kids come with so much "baggage" that you just wouldn't believe it. Therefore, she said, "I try to provide a stable influence in their daily lives -- for some of these kids, school is the only stable thing they have".

s2g6 said...

This article is really eye opening. It's a shame that everything around these students affect them at such a level that education becomes secondary. I agree that we can learn about lesson plans etc.. yet the real teaching doesn't begin until you understand and acknowledge who your students are. Unfortunately we are physically unable to help or worry about every student and their situation, but as long as you can reach out to al least one student, it makes it all worth it!

seroz said...

As teachers in school or soon to be teachers, we are or will be agents of society. We will teach, show, encourage, grow with these children or young adults. Outside of school, they most likely have issues. How do we deal with it to help them deal with it? We must go beyond the standard student/teacher association and take it to a higher level. More on that soon.....

Inept like Conversation said...

I agree, this was definetly worth the read. It has great examples of how teaching often goes beyond simply teaching your subject, and how many outside problems in society will find their ways into schools.

All of the examples are great, but look at the first two. I think that most students who are studying to become teachers may not ever even think of home healthcare may affect their teaching. You have to remember that if it affects you students that you are teaching it is going to affect you in some way. Besides the fact that the student had a concussion and could physically have trouble in school. He also has to worry about the healthcare issue.

The violence issue is and issue that has recently been very prevelant in schools, especially with guns. However, i think it's one of thoses situations that people say to themselves "it wont happen to us, not here." So it's something that people may not seriosly consider.

Overall, this is a very good article that presents realities of teaching, that most up and coming teachers may not think about.

MaxSaidIt said...

My father always tells me "You cant tell someone how to swim". This is a statement that I try to live my life by. This is also a main reason why I believe curriculum needs to be changed a bit. Don't get me wrong, hearing about experiences is always a positive thing but learning from others mistakes is a task in itself

Anonymous said...

I agree as well that the title of this blog speaks for itself. Students confide in teachers they most feel comfortable with for many different reasons. A teacher's job is not only to educate the students but to extend themselves/put themselves out there letting their students know that if they are having an issue/problem, they could confide in them. Many students look up to their teachers and see them as role models. Hence, students will go to teachers for advice if having problems/issues whether it is school related or not. A future educator cannot be taught, or prepared to react in a certain way towards the students who confide in them. The educator, as an adult responds/gives advice accordingly (professionaly, and whole-heartedly). It's like wearing your heart on your sleeve.

HistoryLK said...

After reading the blog posted from a second year teacher, it hit home to me that someone has realized this and has made it a point to talk about it. As a substitute teacher, I can relate to a teacher's concerns and understandings of relations that happen to kids in school during after hours. This is a natural and obvious acknowlegdment on my part but I am sad to say that I expected more teachers to feel this way and if they do, I would think they should show it through their interacting with their students and be more understanding in their actions as well.

dancechica said...

As a student I know how hard it is to balance school work when dealing with difficult personal issues. When you are stuggling with personal conflict it is really hard to concentrate and focus on your school work and the things you have to get done. So as a future educator I hope that I can remember what it was like to be a student in those situations. So, when a student comes to me with an issue I will try and work something out with them because it always better to be an understanding person then one that wirtes the students' problems as unimportant.

ideas of a future art teacher said...

The title of this post says it all. Years and years of schooling and education to someday become an educator will never prepare you for some situations and challenges you will someday face. There is a fine line of just how much you can let a student slide when they are faced with difficult situations. Some situations, like a family member being shot or some of the situations noted in this blog I think can be pretty much agreed upon to give the students a little extra leeway. But how much? And for how long? I know there is also a fine line between how involved in a students personal life a teacher should get. It's a tricky area.

sandyfootprints said...

It's a very important fact of life to remember that students have lives outside of school. I think that our society often assumes that student's lives consist of nothing but school and fun without any major problems, but the fact of the matter is that many students may be struggling with great issues in which most may never even find out about.
Therefore, it's true that we can learn how to teach and how to assess our students, but when the realities of the real world come into play, simply "teaching" is not enough. There will be certain issues that cannot be learned aside from a first hand experience.

RMOSS81 said...

After reading this article I think the teacher had some hard decisions on what to do with the situations that were presented to him. Some were more serious then others. And it is up to the teacher to make a decision on what to do with the student and their situation. Every once in a while you have to take a huge step back and look at what you have, because you don't know whats gonna happen tomorrow and might lose what you have the next day. And you might be that person in that same situation and have to make a decision on what to do and what not to do.

99venom said...

After reading the post it makes me think about something I think about alot, The Big Picture. I feel that I have a pretty "normal" life. I get up everyday and carry on as usual, I go to school, work, my family life is great, but others don't have it so easy. Once in a while you have to take a step back and take time to appreciate everything you have. The next time you judge someone or have to make a decision about something, take a minute to reflect about The Big Picture.

inquisitive_reader said...

Wow. Definitely something that is vital to read, especially since I am pursuing to become a teacher. Its a fact that a student's personal life beyond school does take a toll on him/her as well as the teacher. What I find even more hard for the teacher, is how he/she must feel when although she feels bad for the student, in reality, there is but so much she can do. I understand that must be a difficult position to be placed in.

mric said...

The article was a good read for a few reasons. I feel that every student can relate to this article because every student has other priorities other then school and work; granted, some issues may be a lot more serious then others, but students always have something else to deal with. This article was also a good read for teachers because it is important for teachers to realize that students have stuff going on in their lives other then school work. So, overall, I feel this was a good article with some good stories in it and it was a good read for anyone in the field of education.

stepzeducator said...

The situations that jrbuckley shared about his experiences as a teacher remind me of a great movie I watched over the summer called The Freedom Writers. I think this movie is a great example of how fully "equipped" teachers believe they can be for any teaching position, being they are serious about teaching and academically may be fully equipped. However, I think sometimes teachers forget that we as students are dealing with situations in our lives that no matter how hard we may want to, sometimes we can not separate ourselves from these issues when we set foot in a classroom. Yes as teachers we are trained to be professional, but are children trained to be professional students. Especially in elementary and secondary schooling, school is often an escape for some children from their worlds, however they can not always leave it behind apart from the classroom. As teachers are we trained to deal with these issues students present to us? Not at all, this "training" can only come with experience. I think that is what edubabbler was referring to when she mentioned there are some things teachers can not be taught.

Jamaicanshy said...

I think this was a good read..I like everything i read and i understand that when i become a teacher i will also have students with different problems. This is one of the main reason why i would like to teach us because i want to help other students. This was an excellent read.

lyssiegal said...

To be quite honest, this story scared me. I went to a high school that had many students with problems like these. When I go back to visit my middle school I see how much more out of control the students are since I was there. These are many issues that young people, especially those who are still in school, should not have to deal with. Kids should have time to just be kids and enjoy all that goes along with that. This just highlights some of the problems we have in this world.

The italian teacher said...

These reading remind me a teacher that I had while I was on high school. She cared about her students, she want to let them all do well but the one thing that I remember her for was that every time she saw that a student didn't do his/ her homework or was not prepared, she knew that there was something behind not liking the subject. she would talk to each student and sometimes ask some other student to help those who need it help. it's important to be a good teacher and make sure your student do well but it's even more important to go behind that because a teacher is nor only a teacher but become a friend and even a mother or father.

Mhernandez0 said...

My sister graduated from TCNJ two years ago. She absolutely loved her four years there. Four months later she was walking into her first classroom as Mrs. Hernandez in Elizabeth, New Jersey. She admits that her first month as an Elizabeth 7th and 8th grade History teacher was extremely overwhelming. The thought of quitting crossed her mind on several occasions. She had done her student teaching in a nice suburban town and really felt that she was prepared for any type of classroom. Elizabeth made her think twice.

Two years later my sister wakes up every morning exstatic to go to work. She's confident in her teaching methods and fully understands how to handle the urban setting she must deal with everyday. But she'll admit that this did not come easily. She claims that TCNJ showed her how to correctly form a lesson plan, gave her different teaching techniques to use, and made her knowledgeable in the subject of History. But in no way did it prepare her to deal with what she walked into her first year. She learned this through experience. It took breaking up at least three fights a day and getting threatened on more than one occasion to get inner-city kids interested in what the roman civilization did 2,000 years ago.

shawn said...

While reading this blog I thought about the trial and tribulations that i went through while in school. Growing up in a single parent home, surrounded by gang violence, and a school system that really wasn't helping me as a student. I believe that the blog was brilliant. The issues that we deal with outside of school will ultimately be the reason why we succeed or fail. We need to handle these issues with care and attack them head on. Than we can understand what we need to do to help our students as educators and future educators.

natters said...

While reading this blog I could not help but think back to a book I read this summer called "The Freedom Writers Diaries". The book was about a teacher (ironically named Mrs. G) who went into an urban California school district with the desire to give her students who were labeled 'bad' or other such names a chance. In the diaries of the students, all of the issues they were dealing with on a daily basis came to light. This included many of the same things mentioned in this reading. It is sad that students cannot focus on their education, and that things like tests seem trivial to them in comparison to the other issues plaguing their lives.

sandyfootprints said...

It is a very important fact of life to remember that students have lives outside of school. I think that our society often assumes that students' lives consist of nothing but school and fun without any major problems, but the fact of the matter is that many students may be struggling with great issues in which most may never even find out about.
Therefore, it is true that we can learn how to teach and how to assess our students, but when the realities of the real world come into play, simply "teaching" is not enough. There will be certain issues that cannot be learned aside from a first hand experience.

Mae said...

Everytime I hear stories like the one's given by this second year teacher it just doesn't seem real to be. Some may consider it privelage, sometimes I see it as sheltered. Don't get me wrong, I am extremely greatful that I do not have to worry about many of the things other people face every day, but in the same sense I do not want to be numb to it as a teacher or a human being. When health care and violence issues happen to people I know, students, friends, ect. it forces me to see just how real these issues are for all of America.