This week I am honored to share a conversation I had with a past teacher of mine! She was kind enough to share her perspective as a veteran teacher. With her experience in both public and private schools, we discussed the many challenges, exciting or difficult, of the past few decades. Please welcome Ms. Foster.
Spec. Ed: High school resource classes and middle school self-contained classes, 6-8th middle school regular ed. teacher for science, social studies, reading and language arts, first and second grade teacher. This fall I will begin my 35th year of teaching.
The biggest change I saw before I left public school was the push to teach toward the test and the impact testing had on the teachers. Teachers were required to show dramatic growth of a students learning within a short amount of time.
One thing I have learned over my years of teaching is that teachers should be encouraged to build relationships with students and their families. Through those relationships, teachers can truly assess where a student is and where they need to be by the end of the year. Students should not be made to feel bad for how they performed on one test on one day of their life. Educators have become more data driven which can be good but it can't be everything that an educator looks at. Teachers have to consider the whole child.
Teachers also have to be willing to spend the time growing in their knowledge of the best ways to meet the needs of their students. They can do this by continuing to be a learner of the newest research in the areas of how students learn and what students need in this new and changing world to succeed. The teaching methods of the 80's will not work for today's students. I will always try to change and adapt my teaching to the needs of the students and school. That is what makes teaching so fun and exciting.
In both types of schools, students have to be the main focus in order to achieve progress. I've taught students who are from low income environments and students who are from very privileged areas. Students and parents from both groups want the teacher to give them their best everyday. Students from both groups want to be respected and recognized for who they are. With both groups, in order to make progress you have to build relationships. It takes time but it is so worth it.
In the private world of education I haven't felt the as much pressure as I felt in the public school regarding testing. I've also been allowed to use whatever means possible to teach a standard. This allows me to find material that actually interests the students which makes it more meaningful.
One challenge is keeping up with the research and the advancements in technology. In the public school we were often given new programs or technology and no training. It was hard to implement everything to its true value while learning it at the same time. If schools pay the price for the material/equipment, they should also have to pay the price or make the time for teacher training.
Educational standards should remain high and should change as the needs of society change. School systems who are using old objectives aren't always meeting the needs of today's students.
Teachers need to connect and learn from one another. Some of the best things I've learned have been from watching other teachers teach or talking to them about how they address issues in their class.
I always knew I wanted to work with children. Every day and every year is different because every class is truly different with different talents and needs. My day begins with a prayer that I may be used to reach/ teach someone that day. My day ends with a reflection of how to make the next day better. Teaching is the best job in the world because you are continually learning and you get to walk beside a child as they learn a new concept. What a privilege it is!
A big thank you to Ms. Foster for her insights. I agree with how important relationships are, not just teacher and student, but also teacher and family. Interviews like this help parents to know a bit more about what teachers do for our kids on a regular basis. That relationship between teachers and families can only strengthen when we understand each other. Real education transformation will take place when teachers and families work together for a better system.
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Emma B Perez