Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A decade in.


This week I started my eleventh year of teaching.  It’s been pretty smooth and for the most part the classes are much more mellow than last year. 

Now, I could go into a whole “decade of teaching” retrospective, but it really wouldn’t serve a purpose since my whole blog is a retrospective.  I have some feelings after my ten years that are in the now.

First is the question I’m always asked about how much longer I’m going to “last” in teaching.  I had a relative ask me if I’m already looking forward to a nice administrative job recently and I looked at him and said “I don’t plan on leaving teaching”.   That gained me a surprised look.  Here’s the deal; barring something totally unforeseen I plan on teaching high school forever.  College doesn’t interest me.  I like teaching high school students.  And administration?  Don’t even get me started on why I want to avoid that. 

I do want to get my Master’s Degree.  The problem is that I don’t intend to use to gain more salary, therefore the whole issue becomes rather cost prohibitive.  Still a Political Science MS is available online from Virginia Tech, and my ultimate dream would then go on to Stanford for a History Education PhD or get a PhD in Political Science online at the London School of Economics.  Too much?  Bah.  Why shouldn’t I attempt to raise my bar?  The secondary tract involves a multitude of Educational Technology Master’s Degrees that are available for about half the cost of the standard degree.  But I’m not as passionate about Ed Tech nearly as much as History or Political Science.  We shall see.

I think I’m a pretty good teacher.  After ten years I think I get good results, I get lots of positive feedback from graduated students, and my classroom management almost never attracts the attention of the administration.  Some could respond saying that if I had real confidence I’d call myself “fantastic”, but I’m still searching for what “fantastic” really is.  Education is not in an optimal state right now.  Today I found out that two kids that passed last years AP U.S. History exam nearly scored only Basic on the California Exit Exam on the U.S. History section.  They were proficient by only four points.  Oh, and one of those students had a 4 on the AP exam.  Do either of those scores reflect my teaching ability?  Does any standardized test? 

I think that part of the reason I’m a good teacher is that I’m constantly working to get better.  While state (and now Common Core) standards are a good outline, nothing is as good as engagement.  I’m doing more and more to incorporate technology into my classroom while still making sure that the ed tech is just the tool, not the solution.  Things that don’t work, don’t last, and I’m still often one of the first that arrive and one of the last to leave.  So I still love my job, and I have no problem with doing another ten more years.       

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