In light of Teacher's Day in Chile, I thought this may be an interesting post to write. Teaching and education have slowly moved into the media spotlight, and the debates have slowly become more intense. Should teachers be paid more? Should students be subjected to standardized testing? Why can't all schools be like the ones in Finland? What is the right age to send our children to school? Do kindergarteners need naps? Is a play-based environment better for the children? What should teachers really be doing in their classrooms? Who is creating these policies? Which curriculum is the best? Is my child gifted? How much data should teachers be keeping on their students? Should teachers join the union? Does tenure affect teacher performance? What exactly is Common Core? How can we keep up with technology and social media in schools? Should a teacher's performance be based on the results of high-stakes testing? ...and the list goes on.
You probably have an opinion on each and every one of those whether you teach or not. However, to me the most important question is why teaching has such a high turnover rate.
I have seen so many viral blog posts from teachers in the United States that have decided to completely step away from teaching for some of these hot topics. This is sad, and it's scary. This post appeared in The Guardian, and it brings up many good points. If you teach or have worked with children, this may ring true with you as well. I think many teachers have at least thought about leaving the profession, and many do. I would be lying if I haven't had thoughts of a career switch before, but I don't think I would ever completely move away from education for many reasons.
First of all, I truly love my students. This is probably the most cliché statement one could give, but it is so true. Each student is unique, and seeing the potential and possibilties for their lives makes me motivated to wake up every morning to get to school. Some of the kids you meet along the way stick in your mind, and you find yourself thinking of what they may be doing at that very moment. Some you wish you could magically create them a more stable home or a better life. Some challenge you, make you cry behind a closed bathroom door, or completely drain you of energy, but you still love them. I want the best for all of them, and sometimes without a teacher as a mentor, they may never see that life can be happy and exciting or that they have value. I like the challenge of creating an educational experience unique to each child. This sometimes leaves me exhausted, but I know it provides a better experience for all involved. As the whole focus of this blog revolves around little ones, it is clear that I think children are the most important investment we can make for the future. The way they see the world is inspiring on so many levels, and the way in which they think is always fascinating to me.
With that being said, this is why I enjoy travelling to different countries to teach. In each country, the dynamic of education is so different. The children are different, the family dynamics vary, and the cultures are sometimes polar opposites. This has challenged me to open my mind to new ways of doing something. I find myself researching more about what works or how the brain learns and retains new information. This has become extremely fascinating, and it is a fun thing that Derek and I talk about regularly. It is a rare day that we don't "bring our work home" in one way or another.
This is just a small glimpse into my opinions on teaching. Teachers, what keeps you in education?