Sunday, February 19, 2017

Educators Through the Eyes of Students

There is a negative connotation on student-teacher relationships. Occasionally, teachers and administrators are viewed poorly by student due to many factors.  Some of these include overbearing amounts of homework, difficult assignments or tests, and strict punishments.  Recently, I had an opportunity to shadow an administrator for the entire school day.  This experience was very thought-provoking because it completely changed my view of everyone who works at my school.  Throughout the day, I started to view every teacher as an individual with distinct personalities.  Although there might be a tense relationship now, students do rely on teachers to provide them with extremely valuable knowledge for the future.  “…call on (teachers) to prepare students to meet the demands of the workplace, the community, and school…” (The English Teacher’s Companion, 2008) When both student and educator help and understand each other, anything can happen.

The first task of the day with the administrator was to make sure all students were entering the school and heading to their first period class.  We stood at specific “choke points” in the hallway where the administrator could view as much ground as possible.  I was very surprised on how much supervision there throughout the school day.  Students don’t really notice how much they are being watched to ensure their safety and behavior.  The administrator also made sure to stay for a few minutes after the late bell in order to monitor any stragglers.  Afterwards, the administrator and I made rounds throughout first period.  The administrator told me that it is extremely important that admins are present during classes.  This activity builds healthy relationships between teachers and administrators because it provides an opportunity for communication for both groups.  When admin walk around during class time, it also disproves the stereotype that administrators sit in their office all day.  In fact, the opposite is true.  They are constantly walking around to ensure everything is running smoothly within the school.  This step is necessary because if there needs to be a discussion about a certain teachers’ classroom, the teacher cannot say that administrators know nothing.  When admins are present in classrooms, they can see the relationship between students and teachers alike.  Making themselves present throughout the day improves the atmosphere within the school tremendously.

There was an incident around lunch time.  Unfortunately, the administrator was gone for a good amount of time dealing with this problem.  Although he was away, I spent time with people around the main office and other administrators.  I learned that every administrator at my school has different methods of appealing to students and teachers alike.  However, they all have one thing in common.  They never enjoy punishing students for misbehaving.  Although it is their job, administrators want to see every student succeed.  It is very hard on them when they see that certain students dislike them due to something that they cannot control.  I also observed how often their schedule changes throughout the day.  Admin can come into the day thinking they were going to just return some emails and attend a few meetings, but they have to deal with several issues throughout the day that eat up all of their time.  Their schedule changes faster than most can blink.  Administrators work nonstop in order for students to have a strong learning environment in which they feel safe.  “Students need a firm foundation before anything of consequence can be accomplished.”  (The One World Schoolhouse, 2012)

Near the end of the day, we headed back to the main office.  A different administrator offered to show me the curriculum for ninth grade English.  What he showed me was shocking.  There were almost two hundred and thirty pages of curriculum that was required to be taught.  As soon as I saw this, my opinion of many teachers changed.  I wasn’t aware of how difficult the job of teaching was.  When students don't connect with teachers, it is normally because of the teaching strategy used.  A countless supply of notes and homework often annoy the student to the point of hate directed towards the educator.  I now understand that most teachers are overburdened by the amount of curriculum required to be taught by the end of the school year.  “(Students) move in lockstep through rigid, balkanized curricula aimed lass at deep learning than at the fulfillment of government mandates and creditable performances on standardized tests.”  (The One World Schoolhouse, 2012) Most teachers would much rather give out meaningful work that requires real thinking, but they aren’t given the opportunity.  They have no choice but to blow through lessons in order to get everything done.

From the eyes of a student, teachers and administrators are occasionaly viewed as an annoyance due to strict punishments or an overbearing amount of homework assigned.  This relationship can make the setting in the classroom very tense and uptight rather than loose and enjoyable.  It can also make it hard to get any work done throughout the course of the day.  The goal of any educator is to help students come to a firm understanding of the material being taught.  This is hard to accomplish if the student and the teacher don’t respect each other.  The role of an administrator isn’t to slam students with harsh punishments.  They work to ensure future incidents never happen even if such a thing isn’t possible.  It is hard for students to realize that the educators at their school want to help them.  However, once students start viewing themselves and everything around them through the teacher’s perspective, they will start to understand where teachers are coming from.  The same is equally important for teachers and administrators.  Educators have to recognize students has young adults with their own opinions and thoughts about the world around them.  “This attention to student’ thinking and their past experiences is essential in today’s culturally diverse classrooms.” (The English Teacher’s Companion,2008) Once this has been accomplished, a mutual respect will form between the two groups.  Respect is key for unlocking the potential of every student.

Work Cited:

Burke, Jim. The English teacher's companion: a complete guide to classroom, curriculum, and the profession. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2008. Print.

Khan, Salman. The One World Schoolhouse: Education Reimagined. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 2012. Print.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you, Sean, for this thoughtful commentary. Often people think they have the hardest job, until they experience another person's job. Even parents...with the children...I appreciate your insight and ability to recognize this. Strong leaders are able to advocate without taking the obvious lead. I think this blog allows you to do this! Keep up the good work. I look forward to reading more of your thoughts, experiences and learning from you!