Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Being a Teacher

This quarter I am taking my first Education class in my (seemingly) never-ending quest to become a high school teacher.  This class is titled "Adolescents in Schools and Society" so if nothing else it should help me to live through my children's teenage years without killing them.  

I really like the Professor so far, she has been teaching for upwards of 30 years and has been a high school psychologist for the past 15 years so she Knows. Her. Shit.  Plus she's engaging, funny and warm - all very good qualities for a college professor!  Yesterday we watched about 50 minutes of the documentary film, American Teen and then talked about the issues the kids in the movie were facing.  (Great movie, put it on your Netflix list!)

Before watching the movie we talked about teaching in general, she shared some stories and talked about what we would be covering over the quarter.  One thing she is emphasizing is having us think about what our own teenage experience was and making sure we don't project it onto the kids we will (hopefully) be teaching in the future.  She said it was something she has seen teachers and administrators do time and time again so she wants to help us avoid falling into that trap.

Now I was a teenager more than a few years ago and because my own kids are teens (or close to it) I thought that rather than projecting my own teen experiences onto my students, I might have trouble projecting my kids experiences - they are, after all, much more fresh in my mind.  But as we watched the movie, my biggest problem was with the PARENTS.  All four kids they were following had parents that made me want to bitch-slap them at one point or another.  One girl was doing shots of tequila with her friends in her BEDROOM with no sign of parents anywhere, another boy's father was discouraging him going to college if he didn't get a basketball scholarship and on and on.  I realized that when I start teaching, I will need to be very aware that my own parenting is not something that I can project onto other people and be careful not to judge other parents for doing things differently than I would.

All parents judge other parents for doing things differently than they would do themselves, I think it's human nature, but when you are a teacher this can be problematic and get in the way of helping your students.  Or can it?  My Professor said it is something she has grappled with in her years of teaching and if you are aware of it, it doesn't become an issue.  But how can I teach kids when I think their parents are complete and total morons who are making things worse, not better?  

I hope there is a class in Dealing With the Parents in the Master's of Education program I'm applying for.


MOM #1 said...

I'm struggling with this right now.

I'm trying to express what I feel is the right thing to do with GrandBabyGirl without exchanging my step daughter's parenting style for my own.


I just want to help and keep them from making the same mistakes that I did . . . but alas . . . they are destined to be repeated.

Shoot! Now I think I need to go have a good cry, LOL.

Kate said...

Shoot, I'm not even a parent and I judge other parents parenting skills.

Mostly my parents (lack of) skills.

I think you can be an amazing gift to the children with crappy parents. They need someone to encourage and support them.
i.e. the kid who's dad discouraged him going to college unless he had a scholarship. If he were your student you could help him see that college is still an option and he is capable of accomplishing great things.

Ok, maybe that's too mushy and positive - but I truly believe it.

I think it'd be a matter of looking past the parents - to see the students needs and helping them fulfill their needs - achieve their goals.

EmBee said...

The class sounds fascinating. I look forward to reading more about it through your blog.

SabrinaT said...

I have taken a similar class. In grad school there seems to be a lot of observations of students and teachers.
I feel the same way about parents. They need to teach a course on how to tell a mother off with a smile!

Frogdancer said...

I don't care what other parents do or don't do with their kids.... I teach my students and talk to them with the same expectations and endearments/insults that I use with my own kids. I'm very open about my hatred of drugs (I tell them that I don't want that shit anywhere near my kids.... and that includes them), my belief that bed during school times should be at 10.30, not 2 and that they are 'horrorheads', 'twitfaces' and 'idiots'. I also laugh a hell of a lot with them.

I think that if you have any integrity at all, you'll interact with the kids according to the values you hold dear. That's the most valuable thing we can do for them. If you deal with your students honestly and with respect, they take that away with them long after they've forgotten all of those Shakespeare quotes we make them memorise.
Teaching is a very personal career. You walk into that room with the syllabus, and you make the material your own. You can only do that when your being yourself and really enjoying what you do. You don't preach at them, (imagine how boring that would be for the poor kids!) but who you are as a person automatically flavours everything you do.
It's why every now and then, always when we have no idea it's happening, we make a difference.