Essential Question: What role does professional satisfaction play in the effectiveness of a classroom?
Before I can I attempt to explain the role professional satisfaction plays in the effectiveness of my classroom I need to define my purpose as an educator. Albert Einstein once said “Education is not the learning of facts but the training of the mind to think.” One of the qualities of a successful teacher is a sense of purpose. My purpose as a teacher is simple, to create the spark for further knowledge. Like the famous quote, “Education is not the filling of a pail but the lighting of a fire” (author unknown). Every fire needs 3 things: heat (ignition), fuel, and oxygen. Curiosity and creativity is the heat (ignition). Belief in oneself and the desire to grow is the fuel. Engagement is the oxygen. Like the fire triangle, each of these elements are dependent on each other.
I don’t know any teachers that teaches for the money, notoriety, or fame. The teachers I know teach because they care. There are many distractions in education that can cause a teacher to lose sight of their purpose. A teacher without a purpose is at risk. Just look at the recent national teacher shortage sweeping our nation. NPR’s article “Where Have All the Teachers Gone” states that there is a huge decline in the number of students entering teacher programs in the last 5 years. Some of the reasons included in the article are “ongoing, ideological fisticuffs over the Common Core State Standards, high-stakes testing and efforts to link test results to teacher evaluations. Throw in the erosion of tenure protections and a variety of recession-induced budget cuts, and you've got the makings of a crisis” (Westervelt 2015). The article also points out that “teachers are too often turned into scapegoats by politicians, policymakers, foundations and the media” (Westervelt, 2015). These factors and many more lead to low-moral and high stress. “Teachers with a sense of purpose that are able to see the big picture can ride above the hard and boring days because their eye is on something further down the road” (DuNeen, 2013).
My professional satisfaction plays a major role in the effectiveness of my classroom. I want my students to leave my room being a successful reader, mathematician, scientist, etc. and I am going to do everything in my power to get them there. If something isn't working I am going to try something new. If a student isn’t performing at grade level but has a love for learning I am going to feel a higher degree of satisfaction than when I have a student performing on grade level but lacks the desire to learn.
If I keep my purpose in mind I can find the strength to weigh through the distractions of education to reach what really matters, the student. Author David Burgess said “Stay fluid, keep learning, and keep up the relentless search for what is most effective” (2013, loc. 2049). This year I am implementing Maker Movement principles in my classroom. My students are excited. Their creativity and curiosity are bubbling over and driving their learning. Based on my purpose, I can feel good about the direction my teaching is going. Of course things don’t always work the way I plan but one thing is for sure, I learn from everything I try.
Burgess, D. (2012). Teach like a Pirate: Increase student engagement, boost your creativity, and transform your life as an educator (p. 2049). San Diego, CA: Dave Burgess Consulting.
DuNeen, J. (2013, January 28). 30 Habits Of Highly Effective Teachers. Retrieved September 10, 2015, from http://www.teachthought.com/teaching/25-things-successful-teachers-do-differently/
Westervelt, E. (2015, March 3). Where Have All The Teachers Gone? Retrieved September 7, 2015, from http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2015/08/19/432724094/teacher-shortage-or-teacher-pipeline-problem
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