Reflections for Teachers-to-Be

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 22, 2009 11:24 am
PostPost subject: Reflections for Teachers-to-Be
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As a student teacher, you are at a crossroads. Either you will learn to do what you love and love what you do, or you will end up doing what you are told. What happens will depend completely on your inner compass. Our society pays lip service to teachers. Face this fact: You may get the occasional accolade you need, but will not get the respect or level of income that you truly deserve. You will have to live with that fact and thrive on self-respect.

If your “practicum” is coming up, you may be placed with a good master teacher. You may get a loser, in which case your entry into teaching will be difficult or even nightmarish, an experience that could drive you away from the teaching profession. You may get something in between. Already, your own formal education experience has shown you, positively or negatively, the meaning of learning—joy or pain, pleasure or anxiety. Will you make learning joyful and children excited? Or is that merely an ideal that will quickly fade with the everyday realities of teaching?

You’ve paid a lot of money and jumped through a lot of hoops to get to this point. What have you learned? Are you really prepared? How do you know? What exactly are you prepared for? Do you represent change and innovation? Or will you follow in the footsteps of the army of professionals you are about to join…to march to the beat of the status quo?

Perhaps the training you have received is just enough to make you an average teacher. Do you aspire to be better than average? Do you want to be a great teacher? Do you want to be loved by children and parents? That’s, really, the real litmus test for your ‘performance’. Too many teachers stay on the job settling for much less. Where there is no passion, enthusiasm, and energy, then the light in your eyes—and theirs—will glaze over and grow dim. Are you equipped to survive the institutional pitfalls and politics of the system? Will you resist, or will the system erode you into the kind of teacher you don’t want to become? How do you know you have what it takes not just to teach but to grow in spite of the system? Did they teach this stuff to you in your ‘ed. classes’? Did they talk to you about this? And if they did, did they equip you with tools to help neutralize the poisons and pollution you will have to breathe as a foot soldier in the trenches—so that you can come home to and live happily in a classroom you would truly call your own?

What does it mean to ‘call a classroom your own’? Is that a platitude, a fantasy for a young, idealistic teacher-to-be? Ghandi said, "You must become the change you want.” The journey begins now. You don’t have to wait. You need not really endure bad mentors, if you are unlucky enough to get one. You don’t have to be kept off balance because they’ll tell you at the last minute where you’ll be placed by your institution of higher learning and what you will teach by a disorganized, neglectful, jealous master teacher.

The fact is you can call a classroom your own if you have the tools and the experience required to reach kids using a language and media that gets their attention and allows you to effectively weave information by packaging it, delivering it, and unwrapping it as an experience through which you lead them. Sound hard? It’s like jumping off the diving board the first time. You can do this as a substitute teacher. You can do this as a teacher-to-be.

Take a step back: Actually, in order to do this—in order to connect with kids—you may actually have to unlearn some of the things you’ve been taught. The fact is: most experienced teachers can’t really do this effectively—so don’t be beholden, intimidated, cowed, scared and ultimately scarred by the prospect of student teaching. You would be surprised how many teachers are afraid of being creative or taking risks.

If you are preparing to be a teacher because you want to connect meaningfully with children, then that’s motivation and love enough. But there’s more. How you work with and manage information is the key. How excited you yourself will be about that information and how you actually perceive and present that information will determine the level of your communication energy. A high level of communication energy will enable you to connect meaningfully with a class of children.

If you do not teach using a formula like this, the energy will fade and you will likely become a teacher drop-out or (if you persist) little more than a high paid waiter or waitress who delivers vast amounts of information to the tables of your customers but with no food for thought that’s neat!-ly presented, good to eat, easy to swallow or digest (test?). We can help you, and you in turn can help us grow our web-based initiative to promote creative teacher education and communication. I promise that we can add something priceless and enduring to your teaching breadth and capacity.

If any of these thoughts, strike a chord within you, please, please, let me know. I would love to hear from you! Contact me at

© Copyright 2001 Jeffrey L. Peyton. All rights reserved.
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