Personal Reaction: A Fear of Teaching

Photo credit- www.buzzhourly.com

Photo credit- www.buzzhourly.com

Last week my brother sent me a link to a post (Urban Edge Post) by a former Texas teacher and school administrator Kristi Rangle. In the post, “I was a teacher. I’m worried my daughter will follow in my foosteps” Rangle described how her daughter grew up watching her as an educator, and helping her at school events and decorating her classroom. She goes on to describe her daughter’s surprise at disapproval of her interest in a career in teaching. Rangle expressed,

“The state of teaching has taken some unexpected twists and turns that would make any parent concerned about it as a career choice for their child.” Like many educators, Rangle fears that if her daughter becomes a teacher, she “like many other teachers- will be scapegoated as the reason public education is failing.”

Rangle raises some interesting points including: not addressing the decline and turnover of teachers in public schools; using quality teaching as the number one excuse for student’s academic success; the heavy burdens that teachers endure; and the lack of financial support. I found this post interesting for several reasons. One, my mother is also an educator in Texas, in an urban school district. She was a public school teacher for over 20 years and is now an administrator.

Like Mrs. Rangle’s daughter- while growing up, I spent tons of time at school with her. Decorating her classroom, attending events, observing her teaching and grading papers after school, and observing her bring her “work” home with her in many ways. I can recall watching my mother gather our old clothes and shoes to take to her students who were in need; taking female students to get their hair done and prom dress shopping when needed; volunteering to be the school’s Step Team coach for several years, chaperoning events; and even raising money to take her students on field trips to expose them to the Arts because this was an unfunded, non-priority within the district.

I often mimicked my mother’s teaching at home, using my dolls and stuffed animals as my “students” and old text books and “teaching” my students with the compassion, challenge and support that I not only witnessed my mother using in her classroom, but also experienced her using with my brother and I as she helped us with homework and studying for quizzes and exams. My mother is an “above and beyond” educator. As an adult, I now know that just like Mrs. Rangle, she has observed and experienced the “burden” that many teachers have endured as districts and states place heavy blame on them for the academic failures of students when they have failed to support teachers with the proper resources needed to keep them engaged, motivated, current on successful pedagogy, and supported.

Despite what people may think, teaching is one of the hardest professions in this country. Teachers are underpaid, under-supported, and over-burdened….and looking back on it, perhaps I knew more than I ever let on, because I distinctly remember trying to avoid teaching in K-12 as a profession. Though many of my teachers from elementary to high school, and many of my mom’s colleagues told repeatedly told me I would be a great teacher, I did not pursue it in college… Ultimately I ended up in Higher Education Administration, which is still education. But I learned the lesson from watching my mom and her colleagues give sometimes 60 hours or more a week to a profession that offers little in return. I understand Rangle’s fear for her own daughter, and can only wish, hope, and pray that our legislature, school districts, administrators, parents, and students see the importance and value of teachers and education and work together to make some much needed changes.

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