EASY FOR THE (ELECTIVE) TEACHER?
For 5 years I have “reflected” on my teaching experience. I’m not sure what
motivated me to begin beyond an overwhelming feeling of fullness; I needed to get rid
of some things to make room for others. Of course that snowballed into a habit of
binging and purging on teacher stuff. Then came the readers who actually made
comments on my ramblings and, well, the rest is recorded here in the last 99 essays on
teaching. This is number 100, and my last, at least here, for now. Here is a
those who wish to continue reading on.
I am a teacher of elective classes. Some think the teaching of electives is easy. I teach
a subject that students like to take, but I am a department of one and I write most of
my curriculum alone. My pupils are not automatically enrolled; they have to choose
the course. So elective teachers live and die by the number of students that enroll into
their classes. Not enough students? No class. Yes, some students walk in enthusiastic
and ready to learn. Others have a low expectation for the quantity of work they are
required to complete in their elective.
It’s easy for an elective teacher to claim that school should be fun; we often teach
“fun” topics. But why are they fun? Is multimedia fun by its very nature? Maybe. Or
maybe it’s the teacher that makes it fun. Is English fun? How about Algebra? I believe
it depends on the teacher, their attitude, and their approach to class. Notice I didn’t say
the students. The students will react to the tone set by the teacher. The teacher must be
passionate about the subject he or she is teaching, well qualified to teach students, and
committed to their success.
These may be dark days in education, but I am optimistic. Budget cuts have lead to
teacher layoffs, increased class size, and fewer teaching resources. Although we have
grown to love our smart boards, LCD projectors, and computers in every classroom,
the technology and visual aids are NOT what makes teachers great. Teachers have
successfully taught throughout the ages without all of the extras that we currently
enjoy. And students have learned. Sure it’s frustrating right now, and of course we’d
like it to be different, but teachers will endure. We will continue to teach our students
regardless of circumstances.