Wednesday, August 13, 2008

School Room

This picture was taken in 1902, and shows a classroom full of unruly children. While the photograph appears to be "staged", I think it is interesting in that it shows the clothes and dress of the day. The teacher appears to be pinned in the door.
I have actually been thinking about being a school teacher. On one hand, I think it might be a rewarding and honorable thing to do. On the other hand, I think it might be a nightmare . . . what do you think? Should I try it?


  1. Teaching can be both, as you have guessed, but little of the nightmare comes from the students, rather from the politics of union, and the structure of the system where decision-making is impossible and rules are made without regard to how it effects education.

  2. It's not that it might be either - it's that it will be both. I also say go for it!

  3. I think it depends on the leel you want to teach. Anything between third and eigth grade will tax your patience and energy because these are the kids who appearantly have had little parental presence or any structure in their lives because their parnts work and are not willing to put forth the additional time to work with them and teach them common behavior and manners.

    The little ones pre-K through second grade are young enough to be molded by a really inspiring teache who can prepare them for the years of schooling before them.

    High schoolers have probably "found" themselves and can be expected to respond to a good teacher who can keep them challenged. In addition, you can watch them mature and move on to careers or college.

    I am not a teacher so much of this my not sit well with teachers or be completely correct. These observations come from a life of dealing with kids and grandkids in public schools. I realize that my position does not recognize the differences in individual kids (ie, "good kids verses "bad" kids)or teachers, but covers the range to describe the ephemeral "average kid".

    Having said the above, I think you could truely enjoy the worlds most important and rewarding profession.

  4. Even if you touched ONE student's life, it would have ALL been worth it......follow your "gut"...

  5. Having kept up with your blog for months, all I can say is it would be great to be in your classroom. You have it all, humor, knowledge, just an unbelievable story telling ability. Good luck. Just hope this won't interfere with your daily blog. CR

  6. Al's comment is well-stated, but a little romantic. High Schoolers can be rewarding and they can also be rough. Put simply, their intellectual capacity typically exceeds their moral capacity.

    I taught H.S. Algebra and Geometry for 3.5 years, and really enjoyed it. Looking around toward the end, I started to think that, if I put in the kind of time and effort to become one of the senior teachers I really admired, I was likely to end up somewhat bitter. I'm just not altruistic enough, I guess.

    So I went to law school, and now work 60-70 hour weeks (like I did while I was teaching) at a job that keeps me on my toes (as did teaching) and about which I care enough to have wonderful highs and gut-wrenching lows (like teaching). Except I get paid quite a lot more now.

    I'm glad I spent the time teaching that I did. I learned a lot about people and about myself. I'd say go for it. But leave a door open -- it's hard, thankless work.

    Feel free to contact me if you'd like to discuss.

  7. Teaching takes a special person, you seem like you are special enough. BUT - If you became a writer, I would be first in line to buy one of your books!

  8. I'd like to suggest that you try it out, perhaps volunteer for a short while as a teacher's aide or classroom assistant. Visit some schools and ask if you could sit in on a class or two. Perhaps check out some teaching forums or blogs on the internet. It may help you visualize yourself as a teacher and give you insight into some of the real-life issues, challenges, and rewards of teaching.

    I began working as a teacher in 1980, fresh out of college with a BA in Elementary Education. I taught first graders for five years, second for two, and fourth for three years.

    After ten years I became overwhelmingly weary of correcting papers, report cards, conflicts with parents, and the lack of new and interesting subjects to teach and learn...classic teacher burnout. Plus, I had chosen to cross our teacher's union picket line during a contract dispute, and friendships were never the same after that.

    I took a job in sales and moved my family back to my hometown. After six years I was ready to return to teaching. I became a principal/teacher in a small private school. The first year was just about as perfect as it could ever be...except for the very low salary. But I felt fulfilled and challenged. But I made some critical mistakes as an administrator and teacher, offending some key parents, and my second year was hellish, bordering on insane...I had a full melt-down during the winter break, crying, angry, disfunctional.

    My strong yet compassionate wife helped me retrain my mind to focus on what's really important, and I weathered the storm. I actually was prepared to continue as a teacher at that school, but a better opportunity opened up. I became an instructor of adult men incarcerated in a state prison, teaching English, reading, writing, and math. Later I transferred to the building construction program at the prison.

    Strangely, my six years at the prison were the most fulfilling for me as a teacher to this point. I had tremendous leverage over the inmates who acted out or showed disrespect or cut classes, so classroom discipline issues did not usually hinder the process of learning and teaching. I grew as a teacher, finding many different ways of organizing and presenting and guiding the inmates.

    I consider myself a born teacher...I sometimes find myself feeling a "hunger" to learn something new just so I can teach it to someone else. My very first impulse after learning some new skill or concept is to find someone to teach it to. But the job of "teacher" requires much more than just teaching: classroom management, people-skills, paperwork organization. for me, the critical skill that I lack is the ability to persevere as a teacher, accepting criticism constructively, and activily seeking new ways to present the same-old information. I get bored easily, and I get depressed when criticized...

    As my dad always said, "If it were easy, anyone could do it!"

    It's been about two years since I was a teacher...I'm an air monitoring technician now, and I doubt that I'll ever return to the classroom as a fulltime teacher...the daily grind is just too hard for me...

    But, I really miss the first graders! I can easily see myself helping out as a part-time volunteer...I absolutely love to read children's books aloud!

    I wish you well!

  9. I've been watching my husband who is working on his doctrate and teaching (and assistant teaching) at our local university. He just turned 50. I describe him as being in his element. The politics that come with every jobs is worse when you don't have a real connection or passion for what you are doing (which had been the case for him). So I said "go get your M.A. and Ph.d and fufill that dream and teach". Writing his doctoral thesis is a bit nerve wracking, but he's happy, he works a lot, but he gets to be home a lot too while he's working, so it works for us. I don't think he would have been cut out for primary or high schoolers though.

    I'm sure a lot of people thought he/we were crazy for him to do this at this point in his life, but he is such a different person and he is so much more relaxed now.