Why do people choose to become a teacher?
Do they love working with children and dealing with their problems? Were they always good at explaining things to others? Has it always been their career aspiration?
Or were a job that includes 12 weeks of holiday, end of school most often at 1 pm or an appointment as a tenured German civil servant more convincing?
At the end of 2013 a heated discussion started as an elementary school teacher wrote a letter to her pupils’ parents complaining about the kids’ behavior during a school excursion. She blamed the parents for bringing up their children badly as they yelled at each other, punched classmates and eructated in public. She claimed to be ashamed of her students since they had not learnt about appropriate social behavior at home. Her task as a teacher was to induce kids to learn and not to teach them manners. Parents were indignant at such accusations.
Having a look at a teacher’s role (you can find that in any book dealing with didactics, pedagogy and education) it does not look like an easy job: teachers are resource providers, instructional specialists, curriculum specialists, classroom supporters, learning facilitators, mentors, school leaders, data coaches, catalysts for change and learners … and of course it is their task to teach a child good manners, social behavior and to assume personal responsibility for their actions.
Interesting do sound ‘catalysts for change’ and ‘learners’.
As lifelong learners teachers should improve themselves and have an open mind about new concepts and innovation (DIGITAL education). And of course they are eager for knowledge and information and participate in education and training to improve their skills – especially when it comes to digital education. As catalysts for change they are “visionaries who are ‘never content with the status quo but rather always looking for a better way’.” – sad to say, but this only applies to very few. Disruption and with that innovation hurts and turns anything that is ‘old’ and obsolete upside down. It’s naïve to think that a teacher’s everyday work is not affected by that. Most teachers demur at opening for innovation. Gladly industries guess the potential of e-learning and will disrupt politics, parents and educational institutions. I do think it’s no wise to wait for that as you cannot influence and help fashion future education then – on the contrary you will be forced to adapt yourself to a new era.
I do understand that older- generation teachers are highly skeptical and fear that they have to do all their years and years of work again as it cannot be reused for digital education. But when it comes to young teachers – the ones that just finished their teacher training – I can hardly believe my eyes. They try to do what teachers before them have been doing for decades. To me there is no excuse for that!
For sure this is not correct for every single young teacher. There are very enthusiastic ones who want to change the world of teaching and work together in task forces to get there: flipped classroom, video education, tablets and iPads during lessons, digital A- levels, … Actually a pretty good step in the right direction if everyone sticks to the topic and tries to find solutions without having the watch and one’s own spare time in mind.
When choosing to become a teacher you commit yourself to give your best for students – take your task seriously, roll up your sleeves and turn education in an education that meets the challenges of a digital era! Not to step up to the plate is what teachers have to be ashamed of since our students’ behavior and performance reflect our work!