What Is Making Me Mad This Week?

Oh, I'm so glad you asked.

This week, I am mad because someone, on another forum, has asked some teachers for advice in regards to becoming a teacher, not because this person has an overwhelming desire to be in the classroom or because s/he has always dreamed of molding young minds or to become an educational inspiration for younger generations, OH NO.

This person would like to become a teacher because, essentially, s/he cannot find a first choice job and "teaching ... sounds ... interesting ..."

ME: ...

As you know, I find this opinion--that teaching is a fallback career that anyone can do--to be not only condescending but also very insulting.

In the first place, there is a level of education that must be acquired before one can just waltz to the front of a classroom. Second, there is a massive amount of testing that one must endure surpass. And third, ONE CANNOT AND SHOULD NOT BE A TEACHER JUST BECAUSE ONE'S LIFE PLAN HAS FALLEN THROUGH.


I'm actually quite proud of myself for not publicly eviscerating this person in the forum. I had gotten quite worked up, as I'm sure you can imagine.

The poster had asked us (veteran teachers) for advice on breaking into the field. S/he was not interested in advice such as "You need a degree in education" or "If you are looking for an easy job, try your local nuclear reactor."

Instead, s/he was looking for a quick ticket to Teacher Junction, and I thought, but did not say, the following:

If you would like to be a teacher, please complete the steps below:

1. Find a giant rock. Its shape and location are not important, but it should weigh at least as much as a small car.
2. Find a steep hill. If a hill is not available, lay a board against the side of a house at a 45 degree angle.
3. Every day, from 7:30 until 3:15, push the giant rock up the hill/board. You may have one toilet break in the morning and one in the afternoon. Lunch is at 10:35 and should last no longer than 20 minutes.
4. Enlist friends, neighbors, and total strangers to stand around and watch your progress. They should feel free to critique every move you make.
5. For every day that you fail to push the rock to the top of the hill/board, write a minus sign next to your name; likewise for every successful day, give yourself a plus. At the end of 184 days, if your minuses exceed your pluses, you could lose this cushy, easy job.

Pay is slightly above minimum wage, and may be dependent upon your positive effect data (your plus/minus differential).

After one year, in spite of any emotional or physical decline, if you feel up to facing that rock again, YOU ARE READY TO BE A TEACHER.


Farrel said...

you forgot to mention the unsupportive parents and the "education specialists" who have not been in the classroom for YEARS but still feel qualified to tell you how and what to teach. They are the bumps on the "mountain/board" (board being the operative word.)

Peter Pappas said...

Very clever...

If anyone still want to give it a try, they might enjoy two of my posts "How to Become a Teacher: Resources for Certification and Interviews" http://bit.ly/16EI18 and "The Reflective Teacher: The Taxonomy of Reflection: Part III" http://bit.ly/92kDwc

Joypuppet said...

Mei, I have a problem with authority, too. Your cllever response brought a smile to my face as I could see that rock so clearly. I came back to teaching late and am now in special ed which I like. Why? Small classroom, ability to do projects, testing is different though still there. Check out my blog at: joypuppet.blogspot.com. "Confessions of a Special Ed Teacher"

Anonymous said...

Don't take this the wrong way, but I LOVE you. This is EXACTLY what I've been saying/thinking. In fact, I went so far as to consider having a large rock tattooed on my arm. The only thing that stops me is that too few people would "get it". Thank you for saying what I've been thinking.

teachingphysicsinIndia said...

In defense of the person you seem to be verbally slapping around, let me give you a different perspective.

I have been teaching for 6 years and it has been the hardest job I've ever loved. I do NOT have an education degree, instead, I have a masters in physics.

I came to teaching after 25 years as an engineer. When my professional engineering career took a turn, I decided to take a hiatus from engineering. That was when I had the revelation that I always wondered about teaching and would like to try it out! So I decided to become a teacher instead of returning to engineering. Because physics was a high need area, I was able to get a permanent license in one year by taking the ridiculously easy Praxis exams (a real joke), and nailing down a full-time teaching position in my field. While teaching that first year (it was a difficult transition), I also took 15 credit hours of "advanced" education courses at UVA during the week and over the summer. These education courses were the easiest college work I had ever done (also a joke).

As an outsider moving in, I have won teacher of the year at my school, a Fulbright summer teaching position in India, and a summer teacher research position at national observatory, and none of those awards had anything to do with an education degree--they simply recognized that I love to teach, have much to offer the classroom, and my students and their parents have responded very positively to that.

Maybe you have something to learn about teaching that you don't realize? It's not about your degree, or some "right of passage" to become a teacher, it's about your knowledge transmitted through your heart. And yes, "outsiders" can be great teachers, perhaps even more so than "regular" teachers.

Norman said...

While I absolutely agree that too many people - parents, lawmakers, taxi drivers, passersby from other galaxies - all seem to feel that teaching is a) easy and b) open to everyone's input, I do want to add this to the rock metaphor:

Sometimes the kids see what you are doing and very sweetly say, "Would you like some help?" Some even then join in the pushing.

And that is critical, because without it, we WOULD be -um, silly - to keep pushing that rock everyday.


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