4 Things That Educators Wished Society Understood About the Education Field
Teaching is one of the most misunderstood professions on earth. From a distance, it looks like educators are glorified babysitters that may teach a few skills here and there. However, these people are dead wrong. Teaching is one of the most complex careers on earth, especially if you are doing it right. Educators have to wear several hats, serving as an instructor, disciplinarian, peacemaker, nurse, counselor, team member, teacher leader, etc. Also, they work long hours, many of which are invisible, meaning they occur outside of the traditional school day.
Don’t get it confused, we are the reason that all other professions exist. Your favorite writer learned grammar and composition from a K-12 English teacher. Your doctor learned anatomy and physiology from a K-12 Biology teacher. You state’s Governor learned about the three branches of government from a K-12 Social Studies teacher. I could go on and on, but I think you get the picture. In this short piece, I want to discuss 4 things that educators wished society understood about the education field.
Teacher certification is a rigorous process. To become a certified teacher in most states, you have to go through a teacher education program and tackle a challenging curriculum that ends with a culminating practicum, known as student teaching. During student teaching, pre-service teachers must demonstrate that they can handle the rigors of being a full-time teacher, which include instruction, classroom management, assessment, etc. You must also pass several teacher certification exams, which start as early as your freshman year. If you don’t pass these exams and graduate from an accredited teacher education program, you will never become a certified teacher.
Parent-Teacher partnerships are essential. For a student to reach their potential academically, teachers and parents have to be equally involved in their education. This is not an added bonus, it is a vital piece of the teaching and learning process. We understand that some parents may work several jobs to put food on the table and a roof over their families head, but without parental involvement, we can not do our job effectively. At the end of the day, when students don’t perform academically, we are held accountable by society, parents, and even our principals. Its like we are expected to complete a puzzle with 50% or less of the puzzle pieces.
Our salaries should be doubled, for starters. When you take into account our level of preparation, education, and job responsibilities, to pay us what we are worth teacher salaries should be doubled (for starters). It sickens me to read stories of educators who work 1-2 part-time jobs just make ends meet. In some cases, teachers are on welfare, and turn to food pantries, just to ensure that their families have enough to eat. It further infuriates when I hear private citizens and politicians suggest or flat out state that teachers are overpaid. In what world? I am so happy to see the growing trend of teachers running for public office and unseating the very incumbents that disrespect our profession.
The most optimal way to motivate students. When it comes to motivating students, many people resort to extrinsic motivation first, because it is the easiest to facilitate. Extrinsic motivation requires that you give a student some type of reward to get them to work hard and perform at an optimal level. This sets students up for failure because the world doesn’t always work like that. If they get used to receiving a reward for high performance, they may develop a syndrome where they only work hard when there is something in it for them.
A classic example is a child who works hard to receive praise from their teacher. In the absence of this praise, the child’s motivation to learn may drop. This is not to say that recognition as a form of motivation should not be used. It can be a powerful motivator, but it should not be used in a balanced way. To do this, you have cultivate intrinsic motivation in students, as a counterweight to extrinsic motivation. Intrinsically motivated students try their best all times, because they have developed a love for learning, and genuinely enjoy it. Marrying extrinsic and intrinsic motivation together is the best way to motivate students.
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