In an ideal world, I really believe that the majority of people who are involved in education, whether they're a teacher, administrator, coach, counselor, are anything else, would have a genuine care for kids. I also think that most educators really are trying to do the best they can with what they have, and they probably feel that their style or philosophy of what they're doing is the best way to do it. So while I also have my own beliefs of how things should be done, and how I eventually want to do things when I become a teacher, I am aware that my beliefs can be subjective, and I would hope to be flexible enough to change and evolve as a teacher, as my beliefs change and evolve.
As of today, I sincerely believe that regardless of style or philosophy, there are certain parameters that need to be a part of every classroom, such as discipline, accountability, tolerance, care, and maybe a few others. But the irony to me is that, over the years, the way I define these things, what they mean to me, and how they are carried out, probably will change, as have other things in life. I think that a good teacher, has to be aware of these changes, not only in themselves, but in their students as well, and they should be versatile enough as a teacher to be able to adjust to these changes and remain effective.
The reality today is that the learning environment for our kids has expanded greatly. Kids are learning from TVs., from the internet, from friends, from music, and host of other things, teachers have got to be able to get their attention for the short time that they have them, and get them to learn; Whether they like it or not, and whether they know it or not. And unfortunately most of today's kids don't respond as well to some of the more traditional teaching styles, and thus their learning can be inhibited, regardless of the importance or quality of the information you are giving them.
In a lot of ways I am in a privileged position as a campus monitor in that I am a staff member, and now I can see how things work on that side. But as a monitor and a coach, I also am around the kids a lot and I develop relationships with them that while still professional, they are less formal then traditional student/teacher relationships tend to be, and I can get a sense for when they're really learning, and when they're just getting (or not getting) a grade.
I can also hear from them what they say about teachers such as, who they like, who they pay attention to, and who makes them want to learn. After looking at it from both sides, when I think about which teachers I think are the best, it doesn't have anything to do with male/female, black/white, older/younger, short/tall, coach/science teacher, or anything like that. They do all have similar qualities in that they care first of all, they are all willing to be creative and try new things, and they are all aware of discipline and accountability, all with a touch of humility as well.
For teachers today, it seems being effective for a long period of time carries a big responsibility in that it's a constant challenge to learn, evolve, and adjust to the natural ebbs and flows of life. There is no comfort zone, so to speak, where you can see growth in a class one year or even a couple years, and you can figure if you do what you did with last year's 8th graders, next year's 8th graders will respond the same way. There is a constant challenge to gain knowledge, and knowledge itself is becoming more and more subjective every day, making that challenge even harder.
What was so important or essential to know last year, you might find it just isn't so anymore, or it has been replaced by something just as or more important to know, like the year the internet came out, encyclopedia's became instantly expendable, or after midnight morning January 1st 2000, Y2k became a little less important. Not to mention that what becomes important knowledge to one person may not mean anything to another. The kid who is hungry everyday and has to fight to eat, or for clothes, or for love, they may not care at all about the square root of nine, or who shot who at the Battle of Gettysburg.
To me there has to be some relation to this wealth of knowledge that we are trying to teach these kid's, and the real lives that they are living. The other half of having knowledge as a teacher is being able to deliver that knowledge to their students in a way that their students can both hear, and absorb. Knowing how to deliver that knowledge effectively, and really get student's to absorb and learn it, is knowledge in itself.
During my younger years as a student, I always considered myself to be smart, I always felt like I knew at least a little bit about a lot of things, but I was never a consistent student. My individual motivation never came from really wanting and trying to learn the information, I was an athlete so my immediate motivation was to be eligible to play, and once I realized I wanted to go to college my motivation was to be good enough to get into college, after all that there was getting good grades, even still that wasn't just for the knowledge, but more for my parents, or maybe to get a job.
I do however remember certain classes that I was already interested in, but even more I remember certain teachers or professors who were able to spark some sort of interest in me and ended up making me want to learn more. But, in my scholastic career, these situations were rare. I tell people all the time there is probably 10% of what I learned in college that I still remember from my classes, what I did learn and I do remember are such things as keeping a schedule, how to formulate thoughts and put them on paper, punctuality, keeping a budget, and whole lot of other useful things that you learn from life as a student, that would have been useful had I learned them earlier. I guess I would like to be the type of teacher that can somehow put some of these real life things into learning and give my students not only information, but also help prepare them for life in the real world.