Saturday, October 07, 2006

A Career?

It takes a special person to become a teacher, and even a more special person to stay in the profession for a long time. I respect those people, because I question my future in education everyday. For anyone considering teaching who might be reading this, don't let me discourage you; I just feel that we should show all sides of what we experience as teachers. Many days I spend more time dealing with misbehavior than educating the students. I find myself constantly telling the students that I am trying to give them a key to the future. However, the end of each day brings questions to mind: Is this what teaching is like? Am I teaching? What would it be like in a district with less discipline problems? Is this the career for me?
I think the last question is one that many of us have at least from time to time. For me, the scariest thought is waking up one day as a twenty-year veteran teacher and realizing that I stayed in the profession because it was comfortable. I'm not saying I'll quit teaching after this year (in fact I'm 99% sure I'll be doing it somewhere next year), but I know that I'll definitely have a big decision to make in the next few years. I love children, but only time will tell if I love them enough to keep doing this.
In other news, I like being in MTC but I think like most other 2nd years, I'm counting the classes left. It's been a good program, but it's also been exhausting. I can't wait to have my Saturdays free next semester. Also, Saturdays next fall will be devoted solely to college football. I look forward to that relief after long days at school. Many people are planning more graduate school, law school, medical school, etc., after this, but I think I want to focus more on either staying in this field or going directly into another career. If I ever go back for another degree, it will be later in life. I think I've hidden out in school for long enough, it's time to see the world.

Motivating Students

Motivating students is an interesting subject, even though (especially because?) I have yet to master it. After dealing with students in my classrooms last year and this year so far, I think that you can be effective to a certain extent in motivating students. However, you also must realize that teaching isn't what you see in the "Dangerous Minds" or "Lean on Me" type movies.
My most effective way of motivating students hasn't been a secret. You just have to watch and learn about people's tendencies. For the most part, people want to know how something will work to benefit them in some way. Selfish, it may be, but if you watch others you'll probably notice this. I simply try to relate material (texts, exercises, etc.) to the real world and explain to students how they can use this in the future (college, good jobs, some will even want to learn for the sake of knowledge). I think the students appreciate the teacher's being straightforward with them. If you have students who can't stand when you talk about how the material will help in college, focus more on how the material can help them on the job. It's not so important where you make the's just important that you make the connect.
Now that I gave the Disney part, it's time for the other side. There is no magic way of motivating students. Last year in the Delta, I had that problem. This year in Jackson, I have that problem even worse. I just failed 91 of 139 students for the 1st nine weeks mostly because they chose not to work in class. A lot of them just didn't seem to care and didn't even try. I tried various times to appeal to their hopes for the future, but it's a struggle. I'm not gonna give up, but it's frustrating. Jackson is a city that seems to be going down the drain, and this is it's future. I chose to give averages of no lower than 50 in order to give students hope for next nine weeks. I don't won't them to give up on passing for the whole year. I explained the other day that they have a chance to have a fresh start. Motivation is probably one of the hardest parts of being and staying a teacher. Hopefully, time will teach me more effective ways of dealing with this.