Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Responsibility in the Classroom

As the semester progresses I am learning some very valuable lessons. First off, life in academia is a lot different than the world of business. When I was employed and working on my MBA things were much different. Many of my professors were successful business people. They were organized and transparent-in a good way-They posted all of their course work (syllabus, power point presentations, notes, ideas etc) online before the semester even started. You knew exactly what to expect and could plan accordingly. They read their emails promptly and answered. They not only gave you their office phone number but their cell phone in case of emergency (i.e. you would not be making tonight's class). They also took your contact info (home, office cell and personal email because the school's email wasn't always reliable). Education professors are a different breed.

Since I started my Master's in Education a year and a half ago, only ONE professor has posted any course information online. Almost none utilize technology. No smart boards, no timely emails, no over head presentations. Just lecturing and handouts. One professor had jury duty and missed several classes without even notifying the whole class what the heck was going on. We would all show up on time for class and wait around to see if she (or any professor) would show up. After 2 missed classes she managed to email some of us (not me) to let us know what was going on. This made me very angry to say the least.It also gave me food for thought: If education professors are allowed to behave so irresponsibly is it no wonder the teachers they educate go out into the workplace and behave in the same manner?

A few days ago, a new movie "Waiting for Superman" was released. The movie is about the state of the education system in America. I haven't seen the movie yet but it seems that it's about the plight of charter schools. Parents in poor neighborhoods do not want their kids to attend public schools because of the failure rates so they turn to some successful charter schools such as the Harlem Children's Zone founded by Harvard educated Geoffrey Canada. It paints a very positive light on Charter education: no unions to deal with, longer school days and a longer school year. I know there are some great public schools out there. Unfortunately most of them are in richer neighborhoods where there are high taxes to support school districts. What little I have seen of the movie makes me like charter schools and makes me leery of the teacher's unions. They seem to protect the problem employees. I know this was the case when I was a union employee in another industry. I came to work every day, did my job (and did it well), only called in sick when I was sick and held myself accountable for my work. The union seemed only interested in saving the jobs of the idiots who didn't want to come to work in the first place. It was frustrating and sad. To think that children's lives are being affected by such shenanigans makes my stomach turn.

I have already made up my mind as to what kind of teacher I will be regardless of where I get to work. I will work hard and be honest. I will do everything in my power to understand my students and how they learn. I will then determine the best way to teach them so they understand. I know it won't be easy. Some parents will not be on board. I may have little or no support from my administration or peers. Somehow I will make it through because my students will be depending on me.

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