***I was compensated for this post. All opinions expressed are my own***
I have a very distinct memory from high school. I was sitting in my civics class, ostensibly learning all about government and politics. In reality I was reading from a horribly outdated text book that was teaching me things a seventh grader should know while the teacher sat at the front of the room, his feet propped up on his desk, reading a newspaper. Obviously I blame my complete lack of knowledge about anything political on him. (kidding)
This also happened to be the same teacher that also taught my Computers class. I don’t know what exactly we were supposed to be learning in that class but I can tell you it’s where I learned my love for Fantasy Football. Our main assignment in that class was to create a spreadsheet that would calculate a fantasy score based on stats we pulled from the sports section. We spent the better part of that semester keeping track of his fantasy football league.
Looking back I can see that he probably wasn’t just bored with teaching in general, but being forced to teach classes outside of his realm of expertise. Unfortunately the problem of teachers suffering from stagnation is a problem that has only grown since my days in high school, leading to a growing percentage of job turnover.
I spoke with several of my close friends who are teachers, both in rural areas and large cities, about the problems they face as teachers. When asked about the biggest factor that keeps them from being successful they all cited lack of parent involvement. They also struggle with outdated resources and an astounding lack of technology for use in the classroom. For teachers at higher grade levels a major struggle is students who lack the basic skills needed to understand current coursework. Can you imaging having a 10th grader who you were to advance to an 11th grade reading level when they come to your classroom with a 3rd grade reading level? Unfortunately this is a prevalent problem in many areas.
Unfortunately there is no magic answer, no easy fix, to any of these problems. Parents and caregivers have to place a higher importance on education, administrators and educators have to set more stringent and more realistic requirements, and curriculum has to be adjusted to reflect the constant changes in technology. As one friend so simply stated it, “I think we absolutely need to use technology in our teaching; we can’t only teach kids the way we were taught. We have to adapt to their culture and new technologies. We have to keep them interested.”
How do you think we can begin correcting the problems facing our educators? Leave your thoughts to be entered to win a copy of the book Mission Possible: How the Secrets of the Success Academies Can Work in Any School. This book, co-authored by Eva Moskowitz (the founder and CEO of the Success Charter Network in Harlem) and Arin Lavinia, discusses strategies used by a charter school in Harlem that led to dramatically improved test scores and a ranking as one of the top schools in the New York area. I will pick a winner from the comments section Friday the 9th at midnight (Central time).