Tag Archives: teacher

Let’s Be Honest

6 Feb

School is a complete joke.  I mean, who am I to say anything… I’m a third year soon to be teacher… and I feel burnt out already.  I am so completely frustrated I honestly don’t know where to go anymore.  I am sick of going to education classes and learning about how to be a teacher.  It’s not because I don’t think the education classes have anything to offer, I’m far from thinking I’m smarter than the education program, I am quite the opposite.  I feel like I’m never going to be good enough.  We only have one life to live, and there isn’t enough time to make the difference that I want to.  There is absolutely so much wrong with education I am never going to be able to make a difference.

It’s sad that what I’m aspiring to do seems so useless.  Our system is filled with people who just don’t seem to care and I feel like I’m drowning.  Education is so incredibly important and it’s not taken serious enough.  Education is NOT about going to university, or driving the economy, or even just getting a job.  Education is safety, it’s a livelihood, it means giving people the skills to be able to live.  Getting a job is so important, but it’s so much more than that.

What is the point of school?  I feel like being in secondary education is the easy way out.  Who cares about high school.  Yes, I can see the importance of things, but really by the time kids get to high school they are going to know if education is important to them or not.  Yes, there will be lots of time to make a difference in high school, I’m not saying there won’t be.  I just feel like being in the secondary math program is so shallow.  I obviously feel like math is important, I’m in math education, but in the entire scheme of things what the fuck is math.  Why am I wasting my time learning to be a secondary math teacher when the crucial times are in middle years.  No one seems to want to teach middle years and it is by far the most important time.  The kids who are taking secondary math are the ones who basically already know where they are going with in life, what about the kids who fell behind.

Who the hell is a teacher anyways.  Teachers can make a huge difference and the people who are in my department seem to take that for granted.  Who cares if you can make an engaging lesson plan, and if you know the curriculum inside and out.  Is that the skill set we are aspiring to have?  We can think we know everything about teaching and then you get thrown in an inner city school and you find out you really know absolutely nothing.  Or you have kids in your class with disabilities and again, nothing.  Or the kid in the back who gets abused at home, how am I going to help that person.  My best friend is in social work, would I be able to do more if that was what I did?  When it comes down to it, the kids you really actually need to help probably aren’t going to be able to be helped in a school.  The school can make a difference but how much?

I don’t want it to seem like I think school is not important, I think that school how it is now is completely wrong.  Focus is on the wrong things and we are depriving youth of the things they need.  Our society is quite advanced, and we need to be educated in order to run things, but at the end of the day it’s more imporant if everyone has a home to go to.  What good is an advanced society when there are children who sleep on the street?  School needs to foster the ability of people to make decisions for themselves and make sure that those decisions are well thought through.  We need to teach students how to think.  To quote my math ed teacher “Math is the vehicle to develop the mind”.

I never am going to feel like I’m going to be a good enough teacher, and that is a good thing.  I am perfectly prepared to devote my entire life to getting better because I will never know absolutely everything.  There is always going to be experiences that shock me so I need to, instead of preparing myself for specific things, prepare myself to be shocked.  It’s disheartening too, knowing that I am going to be in a constant battle for the rest of my life.  I’m scared every day that I will burn myself out too quick and not actually get shit done.  That’s all I want to do, get shit done.  I want to be a shit disturber, I want to change things, but am I the kind of person people actually want to have in their school?  What if what I think needs to change is wrong, who am I to argue with people who have been teaching forever.  Do I have any right thinking everything needs to change when, experience wise, I know nothing.

When I compare myself to my peers I have mixed opinions of what I actually know.  Sometimes I feel like I’m above them because I think like this and think that one day I can actually make a change for the better.  Other days I feel eons behind them because they seem so confident and secure with their abilities to teach.  Why is it that, aside from a select few of my peers, only I feel like we are heading down the wrong path?  Some people I go to school with think that University is a joke because we need to actually just be in schools and teaching to learn.  I agree with that to a point, because once we get into schools that’s when everything is going to get real.  I also think that we need to learn everything we can from the people who have devoted their life to education.  I aspire to be a teacher that is good enough that I can teach people how to teach, and I feel like everyone else just wants to do the bare minimum.  I want to go above and beyond but how can I do that?

Maybe I want to do to much.  I constantly aspire to do things that are beyond my ability.  Is that a bad or good thing?  Maybe I need to focus on the things that I am actually able to do, and do them well, instead of trying to do something I will never be able to do.  Maybe I’m just scared.  I don’t even need to say maybe, I am absolutely 100% scared.  I’m terrified of going into a school and wrecking someones life.  There is a huge responsibility on me and I need to know that I’m on the right track.  You learn from the mistakes you make, I believe that, so making the mistakes, I hope,  is a healthy thing.

Instead of being scared and ranting to my friends and my blog I need to just man up and do something.  I have to stop being scared and be more confident, I just don’t know how to do that.  Instead of being worried about the things that I won’t be able to do I should focus on things that I will be able to do.

Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.

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Assessment in Mathematics

13 Jan

A group of educators are brought into a room and asked to grade the exact same math test taken by the exact same student.  The mark achieved on this test?  Well the mark varied by 30%.  Wait a second… I thought math was black and white, right and wrong, good and evil… Why such the difference?

Over the course of my education I have thought a lot about assessment and especially how I am going to approach it when I teach.  I understand that there is a numerical grade given to students and I just do not think that it necessarily reflects any knowledge or understanding of the student.  Assessing doesn’t have to be done through marking to get a grade, because what does a grade really mean anyways?  Why is it that students need to be tested to prove their knowledge?  Do we not notice students understanding in numerous situations and do we not assess those things?  Regardless of these numerous things that we assess there has to be a numerical grade assigned to a student.  Marks are only reflective of a person’s opinion, so do they really matter?

Today in our EMTH 350 class we were asked to assess tests.  This is the first time I had been asked to do this, but not the first time that I have marked something.  I saw in many different instances that I knew the student fully understood the assignment and the problem yet made mistakes along the way.  What is more important; getting the right answer or understanding the process?  Process over product is a concept that I often think about and have always felt true.  When it comes down to it though, society asks a grade of us for our students.  In such a competitive society, with scholarships and university and so on, how else are we to gauge a students performance?

What really is assessment?  My understanding of it is that when you observe a student you can understand what they understand and what they are doing wrong.  Most importantly you are understanding how to fix those problems.  Assessing is something that happens all the time, but how can we measure it?  Do we need to?

Math Attitude

13 Jan

What are people’s attitudes towards mathematics?  Why do some people hate mathematics?  Many things can affect how people view mathematics.  The content itself, although does play a role in the anxiety that mathematics, but not necessarily one of the greatest factors.  The stereotype of what is believed to be a math teacher and the social outlook on math and the teachers makes a great influence.  If children are raised thinking they hate math, whether it be from their teachers or their parents, that is going to be passed on.  The social aspect on attitude towards math plays a great deal especially in middle years.  This is the time when kids are changing the most and going through a lot, and worrying and being good at something like math might not be a priority or not considered “cool”.  Assessment also plays a great role in how people think about math.  At a young age things like tests are introduced with math and many students find it difficult being put on the spot with math, especially if they aren’t comfortable with it.

As a teacher, dealing with students attitudes towards math will be a concern.  What ways can I, as a teacher, make students have a more positive outlook on math and be more comfortable with it.  Maybe the ways in which one assesses the students can make a difference.  Giving real world examples and making math more applicable to students could make it pertain more to the students.  Its hard to say what might be the best way to help this image, but its clear that there is a problem so things obviously need to change.

Fitting the Standards

10 Jan

Today was my first class of EADM 310 and we watched the TED talk Bill Gates on Mosquitos, Malaria and Education.  At some point in the semester we are going to have to reflect on everything we are learning so I might as well do it now.  This TED talk posed a large amount of questions for me, and also frustrated me quite a bit.

At first Gates talks about mosquito’s and malaria and I found a lot of what he said to be very interesting.  It is important to use what we have, all of the technologies and advancements, to better the world, but sometimes it seems like it is an after thought.  “Now that we have all this money we can use it to help others”, rather than doing it along the way.  The point he made that stood out the most is that if you try half-heartedly to force out a problem over the time that it takes to rid that same problem it will evolve.  This told me a couple of things: 1) Things are going to be constantly changing and 2) The society we are in values doing things as fast as possible.  This really led the way into how I thought about his views on education, and also made me think about how we help people.  Would it be more beneficial to try and fix the problem all at once and get rid of it for good or help as many people along the  way as you can?

He started off with asking the question, “How do you make a good teacher?” and his answer was, “You don’t.”  At first I thought that this was a great statement, saying that you can only teach someone how to do something so much and becoming a great teacher was up to that individual person.  This wasn’t necessarily what Gates was getting at.  Gates was trying to say that it’s needed to make sure that teachers are getting classified by their competence and not because of their seniority etc.  The main content of what needed to be achieved through education was that all people should get equal opportunity and everyone deserves to have good teachers.  This seems almost contradictory to what he finds to be the intent of what education is for, which was mainly to compete at a global scale.

Why do we use education to be “competitive”?  If we are trying to make sure that everyone has equal opportunity does that not mean that we are trying to lessen the competitiveness of education?  Gates talked about how we can compete at a global scale.  What does this really mean?  What does “competing at a global scale mean?  Does this mean that we are at par intellectually with other countries?  Does that really matter at all?  What I seemed to find from what he was talking about is that we need to increase our education so that we can be the top educated people.  Is it fair to use education as a means to become culturally superior?  Is that really the motive behind education?  If we are the most educated people what are the repercussions of that?  It is clear from Gates’ perspective that it means we can drive our country economically.  Is driving economics the sole purpose of education?

How can we measure who is the most educated group of peoples?  The easiest way, of course, is standardize testing.  Ha.  That frustrates me beyond belief.  First of all how can you possibly have a standardized test that would apply to every group of people in the world?  The cultural differences between people make it easy to see that you couldn’t because not everyone learns things the same ways, and that does NOT mean that a person is more or less educated.  Does testing really give any evidence as to how much knowledge a student possesses?  Putting emphasis on testing just gives reason to think that the only purpose of schooling has to do with the content learned not the actually process of learning.  Can testing really give evidence as to who is a good teacher?  Sure it can, if the only thing you find important is memorizing the content that is applicable to the testing.  I don’t understand how standardized testing can make or break if you have had a good education or not.

Standardizing the testing isn’t the only standard Gates talks about; the teacher standard plays a great role in his discussion.  I understand that teachers are held to a higher standard than others, and I agree with that.  I agree that in a sense we have standards for what a teacher is, we go to the university to learn how to be teachers after all.  What I don’t agree with is that there should be a set in stone standard of how all teachers are.  If we focus too much on what the standard of being a teacher is, how does that leave room for development?  Gates said that after three years a teacher doesn’t get any better, but of course this is a stat derived from test scores.  Is that true?  At the beginning of his talk he makes the point that things evolve and things change, is this aside from education?  How could we possibly make a standard for who a teacher should be and what they should do when things are constantly evolving and changing?  What works for one teacher might not work for another teacher.  Teachers constantly adapt to their surroundings.  If we accept that are students are not all the same should we then also accept that our teachers are not all the same?

You can never perfect something, there is always room for improvement.