Some teachers fail at teaching, others make the grade
Ask anyone about their first memories of school. Whether they loved or hated their education likely had to do with one figure: the teacher.
There need to be more teachers coming into schools who are passionate about what they teach and truly care about students.
A teacher has extreme influence over his or her students. A Rand Group report even said that “teachers matter more to student achievement than any other aspect of schooling.”
According to the report, “a teacher is estimated to have two to three times the impact of any other school factor” on students’ standardized-test performances. The reality of teachers’ influence on students is a slippery slope. A good teacher can change a pupil’s life; a bad teacher leaves a powerful impact as well.
Biology senior Yareth Flores said she had a bad experience with an algebra teacher once that cost her a grade.
“I asked him to clarify a small detail (of his explanation) and he made me feel stupid in front of the whole class for asking a question,” Flores said. Flores said she never asked the teacher a question again, which ended up affecting her grade and making her get a “C” in the class.
Flores’s story isn’t unique. Google “bad teacher stories” and a plethora of evidence will come up proving how a bad teacher can impact a student — sometimes even permanently.
California judge Rolf M. Treu agrees. In a 2014 ruling in a case to end teacher tenure in the state, he wrote that “the effect of bad teachers on students shocks the conscience.” Central to the case was the fact that many “grossly ineffective teachers” remain employed.
Although this is one case and one state, the debate it represents happens in schools and homes all over the country.
New teachers and student teachers have an uphill battle ahead of them. Whether teaching in a kindergarten or high school classroom, education isn’t an easy field. This is why it’s essential that those who choose to teach do so for the right reasons.
“I wanted to be a teacher when I was very young,” said Chaveli Solis, a Spanish language sophomore with a minor in education.
She chose Spanish because she “wanted to teach something (she) felt a passion for and loved.”
“It’s interesting to see different districts and their methods of teaching,” Solis said. She admits that students can sometimes get unruly, but said that’s part of the job.
“It … requires a lot of patience. You can’t always plan how your students are going to be … (but) if you set your priorities straight and you set your rules and expectations (right away), it shouldn’t be as difficult,” Solis said.
Solis has seen firsthand in her training how difficult being a teacher can be, but said that “once you get a feel for the classroom, it gets easier.” She knows the first year is the hardest, but “it’s important to know that it will all get better.”
Student teachers like Solis are arguably the most important resource the education system has. Every young person who enters college and makes the decision to pursue teaching is a chance for a student to be positively influenced.
If the new generation of educators has a positive outlook and real passion, a new generation of students can be inspired. And while it may not be enough to fix all the problems facing teachers, students and the system in general, passion and positivity always make a good start.
Opinion columnist Elizabeth Murphy is an advertising sophomore and may be reached at [email protected].