Monday, April 9, 2012

On Becoming A Teacher

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Becoming a Teacher

In Herbert Kohl’s, Growing Minds on Becoming a Teacher, I found there to be many helpful insights to the teaching profession. Kohl gives a straight up approach about his experiences while teaching, and what he feels was successful and beneficial for not only for himself, but also for his students. This book taught me that teachers not only teach the students, but the students also teach the teachers.

One of the most shocking things that took place in the beginning of the book, was the fact that this man came from a family that did a lot of labor work for careers, whereas Kohl wanted to teach elementary school students how to do the basics such as read and write. I was absolutely shocked that he went through so much schooling, and even got a doctrine at Harvard before he made the leap to elementary education.

I personally found this book quit agreeable. I really enjoyed his attitude towards students, and making them more as friends rather than a teacher -student relationship. This approach of making everyone in the school his friend helped me realize that how important it is to have the student’s during the learning process. How Kohl took his students’ lives and went out of his way to make them better, really gave me more energy towards the profession. I realized that this is the type of educator that I want to be. I want to be a friend, a confidant, and yet a person that still is able to educate and coach students with their lives. I found it particularly disheartening when administrators and other teachers looked down upon this way of action in the schools. I am hoping that they only reacted that way because it was forty years ago, and that attitude is now abandoned.

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The one fear that I have always had about teaching is that my students won’t like me as a person and therefore not learn what I am teaching. I really think that it is important for students to be fond of their instructor because in a way it helps them get excited about the class, even if it’s a subject that does not interest them. Taking from a personal experience, I always hated science growing up, until my 8th grade year I had a wonderful biology teacher, Mr. Boland. I hated biology, however Mr. Boland was so excited about the topic, and he would give incentives and play games with students to help them have fun and at the same time learn.

Another aspect Growing Minds taught me was that teachers are not the only educators in the room. “One of the beauties of teaching is that there is no limit to one’s growth as a teacher” (77). Each time Kohl went into a new teaching environment, he learned something new about himself. It was almost as if he was surprised that he handled the conflict and conquered it the way he did. I feel that a true aspect of teaching is keeping an open mind, and sure there will be times when you get frustrated with a particular student, but fighting back is not the answer, but rather becoming the trickster and keeping an open sense of humor.

Every person who is going to school to be teacher always wonders about the type of discipline they will need to put forth in their classroom. No one wants a problem child, but chances are there is not a way around it. My personal take on the matter is that shipping the problem out of the classroom is the wrong idea. Kohl tells a story of a school that limited its classes down to ten students in a class because they kept ridding the problems out of the class rather than asking why there were problem students. I can only imagine the huge task a teacher has to take one when he or she is presented with disciplinary problems in the classroom, however there has to be a way to maintain control in the classroom, while solving the problems without the students even realizing it. A good teacher would look at the reason the student is presenting to resist learning, and then find a way to cure that resistance. It might be working with the child during lunch, or giving special kind attention to the child, at the same not letting him or her get away with disrupting the class. Kohl however made a great point; there will always be a problem student in the classroom. If one problem is fixed or the problem is shipped out of the room, another student will soon arise into the next disturbance.

If this book taught me anything, it is that teaching is not as easy of a profession as I had imagined it to be. There is a lot to learn, and 5% of it (besides unit plans and lessons) is all learned through experience. Herbert Kohl seemed to get through the first hard years of teaching and he offered lots of advice to those who are beginning to teach. This book really recharged my enthusiasm about the career and gave me great insight on how to overcome the great challenges. I truly hope that one day, I will be looked up to just like Kohl and I will aspire to provide the support and knowledge that he has giving myself along with many other people looking into this line of work.

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