I am a teacher. 17 years teaching at the public schools in both middle school and high school mathematics. I still teach, but work now on the business end of things, teaching teachers how to effectively integrate technology into mathematics instruction and trying my best to support teachers whenever I can. But...I am going to come out and say right now - if I had to go back to public school teaching, I wouldn't do it. Nor would I encourage anyone considering this as a career to go there.
Don't get me wrong - I absolutely love teaching. It is my passion. Yet, when I look at the constant berating that teachers get these days, the blame that is placed on them for the failure of the educational system in our country, the amount of work and time that teachers put in versus the benefits they receive...well, it's not worth it.
Are there terrible teachers out there? You bet. I had the 'pleasure' of working with many in my years of teaching and supervising math teachers and it is a disservice to our students that those teachers are allowed to teach. It is the system however that allows them to stay, and I think we need to be focusing on the system of education before we focus on fixing the 'teachers'.
In all my years teaching and supervising, and we are talking 4 different schools and districts in 4 vastly different socio-economic areas, the number of phenomenal teachers far out-weighed the bad. And the dedication, devotion, and true passion for students from the teachers I worked with was evident everywhere I went. In my current job, I travel all over the country working with teachers, and again, the passion, dedication, desire to improve their own instructional practices to help students achieve is amazing and exciting. And yet....they are discouraged because the system of education is making true teaching impossible.
We rarely see the good side of education. We only see the 'statistics', and blame the teacher for all that is wrong, not really looking at the family support students have, the resources that are available both at school and home, the number of students in a classsroom, the leadership and support of the administration, the structure of the schools, etc....all components that contribute to the failure of education. It takes a village or a school or a district to teach a child, not just one teacher. And yet the teacher is to blame.
I am saddened by my own pessimism and not sure how to change it. All I hear and read around me is negative in regards to teachers and education, and while I truly believe that a passionate, knowledgeable, dedicated teacher is the best thing that can happen to a student, I am afraid that we are losing the chance for future passionate teachers. Who would want to go into a career where there are no jobs and where the jobs that are there are thankless when things go right and full of blame and criticism when things go wrong?