Education is the ticket to a better life. Each morning, parents send their children to school, put their children’s futures in teachers’ hands, and hope that ticket takes their children to higher roads and better places.
Many public schools excel at preparing their students for their futures, but what happens when schools do not produce expected results and are instead severely underperforming? The 2010 documentary Waiting for “Superman,” directed by Davis Guggenheim, discusses this topic in depth by following several students who currently attend or will attend severely underperforming schools. The title is based on an interview with education reformer Geoffrey Canada, where he recounts how his mother told him as a child that Superman wasn’t real, and he was frightened because there was no one coming to save him. Dr. Robert Balfanz of Johns Hopkins University terms such schools “dropout factories.” Dropout factories are public high schools where more than 40% of students do not graduate on time. Failing elementary and middle schools feed their poorly prepared students into their local high schools, which end up failing too. These institutions of learning, which are meant to empower communities with the ability to live a successful life, instead leave them damaged and short-sighted. Children who had so much potential are left discouraged and broken. They don’t have hope for their future, they don’t have goals to reach any more, and they’ve just about given up on themselves.
Many parents wish to avoid these failing public schools and place their children in a school that will benefit them and meet their needs. Even if this option exists, however, getting into better performing schools is difficult. These schools – often private schools – have tuition fees low-income families are unable to afford. That, or the schools have more applicants than available openings.
My point in bringing up this topic is not to overwhelm or discourage, but rather to discuss an important question: What can we as future teachers do to help fix these problems in our country’s education? In order for these failing schools to improve, we need better teachers – teachers who are willing to face these challenges and work in areas where public schools are really struggling, like D.C., New York City, or Houston. Whether or not you end up teaching in a “dropout factory” or in a relatively good school, there will always be a need for good teachers who help struggling students
According to GreatSchools, a national non-profit organization that provides ratings of local schools for parents, “the single most important factor determining the quality of the education a child receives is the quality of his teacher.” The first step as a teacher to improving the state of U.S. public education system should be becoming the best teacher you possibly can be. If you can provide a quality education for the children you teach, that’s one large step in the right direction.
So what exactly do good teachers do? Here are some ideas:
– Set high expectations for ALL students
– Have clear, written-out objectives
– Be prepared and organized
– Engage students and get them to look at issues in a variety of ways
– Form strong relationships with their students and show that they care about them as people
(To read more about these ideas, visit this link)
Change starts with us. If we want students to receive a quality education, we need to be quality educators. We can use the education we’re blessed to receive right now to help students achieve that same dream.
I’d really love to start a discussion on this topic. Please feel free to share your ideas of what being a good teacher really means.