Tuesday, November 27, 2007

What Is Your Dream Teaching Assignment?

Over the years I’ve joked many times with colleagues that things would be different when I’m the Queen of Education. I’ve been overheard saying things like the following:

“You know….when I’m the Queen of Education we are going to do something about respect in the classroom on behalf of teachers, parents, and students.”

“When I’m the Queen we’re going to kick inept teachers to the curb and not find them suddenly in a position of authority.”

“When I’m the Queen consistency will be the guideword, and there won’t be a hop, skip, and a jump from the greatest thing to the next greatest thing without true and various methods of measure than one standardized test score. If students are to be treated as unique individuals then we need more than one type of measure.”

Well, as time goes on it seems Prince Charles and I have more things in common than just grey hair, adult and nearly adult children. We may never reach our throne, and as far as I’m concerned that’s ok by me. My throne is already hot enough as it is…..

I still dream though and wonder about that elusive perfect teaching assignment. It would be an assignment where I had time to feel like I was really making a difference with students. It would be an assignment where my opinions matter and my years of service and education would be taken into account. It would be an assignment where my knowledge of content would be appreciated and creativity to inspire children would be cultivated.

One of my former colleagues….a person I miss very much….has been placed in a position of a dream assignment of sorts. After moving with her pastor husband to Virginia to take the pulpit in a new church she found herself suddenly responsible for 13 highschoolers in grades 9-12 at the private school the church runs. When my friend, who I will refer to as Mrs. S. from this point on, wrote me an email detailing her newly found position I asked her if I could share her exploits this year with you. She gladly consented. It’s not very often these days that you find a position with as much responsibility and opportunity for creativity as the one Mrs. S. has found herself in.

She states that with some creative scheduling and with the help of an assistant they are making things work. To make things a little easier for everyone Mrs. S. has decided all 9-12th graders will study American History this year. Her group has already been on field trips to Jamestown and Yorktown. In fact, the picture you see above is her students inside a Powatan canoe hollowed out from the trunk of a tree. I wish I could have gone on their trip. :(

Of course, Mrs. S. confesses there are pros and cons to her dream situation. It’s awfully easy to pack them up and take a trip since there are only 13 of them. Recently she returned to Georgia to her home church that also runs a school for a youth rally and brought all of her students with her. Here they all are posed in front of a monster truck.

She doesn’t have to deal with many of the environmental issues some of us do. One factor that is very different from students I have taught is all 13 of her students live with both biological parents. I don’t think I’ve ever had a situation like that. Many of my students live with grandparents.

One of the downsides is she’s with the same 13 young people all day long. They are with her all day long as well and with each other all day long. Since it is a church school this means they also are in the youth group together and all other church services. Mrs. S. states because of all of the togetherness she’s feeling so much closer to her students this year than any other….she’s not so sure that’s a good thing.

Most of Mrs. S.’s students were participants in a program called ACE where they all worked at their own pace. She states there was a little struggle at first as she encouraged a few to work a little faster. Their writing, Mrs. S. admits, needs much improvement, and I look forward to her sharing some of the achievements her young men and women make this year.

In case you think Mrs. S. really has it easy and all of her students are motivated and have high abilities she advises she does have some students with learning diabilities. I’m proud to say Mrs. S. is doing some research to discover strategies to help her young people succeed. Currently she is attempting to help one man with strategies for memorization including the spelling of certain words, Bible verses, and things like the Preamble. Mrs. S. states the education carnival can be a great help to teachers when they are researching ways to help students.

So, I hope to hear from Mrs. S. often so I can keep you advised of her one-room-schoolhouse type situation. Feel free to offer her any advice in the comments…believe me she will see it, and while you’re at it what would a dream teaching assignment be like for you?

Is there a perfect teaching assignment?


Rebecca Mecomber said...

If your Mrs. S doesn't have the perfect teaching assignment, then I don't know what is.

My kids were in the ACE program for a few years. We didn't like it and switched to Abeka. ACE is all right if you have teachers who don't know what they are doing, but it does move at a terribly slow pace. We thrive on Abeka.

This is a good post. I'm looking forward to hearing more about your Mrs. S and about your experiences as you share them too.

It is a terrible shame about the family lives of many children these days. I lived in a broken-family, too. Nice for the adults, not so hot for the kids.

EHT said...

Thanks, Mrs. Mecomber. I've used parts of the Abeka program and agree with you.

The Tour Marm said...

I have the dream teaching assignment!

The world is my schoolhouse!

Joel said...

Hey, I linked to you over at So You Want To Teach? in the 148th Carnival of Education but it didn't trackback correctly. Sorry about that.

Joel said...

My dream teaching assignment is almost what I have right now.

I would love to be able to teach all the same kids three or four years in a row. I'd get to watch them develop their skills, see them grow into (hopefully) good human beings, and be able to be a positive role model in their lives.

I love teaching band, so it would have to include that. It'd be nice to have a secretary to handle all of my paperwork, money, fundraising, grading, scheduling, and everything else. Of course, it would have to be a secretary I could trust as I like to micromanage as much as possible. :)

EHT said...

Joel, I didn't even realize it wasn't trackbacking (?) correctly. Thanks for letting me know. I think there is some coding issues here at this site that are off. I need to check with Blogger. I noticed it before my template change.

I saw that Joanne Jacobs had linked to the post at her site, so many thanks to her.

I think it would be very interesting to teach the same group of students for two or more years to really see growth. Just as soon as you get used to a group they move on. I would imagine that with band there are many extra duties that can make your job difficult.

Mister Teacher said...

Um, just going by the name of your post, my perfect teaching assignment would be teaching Catherine Zeta-Jones, Heather Locklear, and Evangeline Lilly the proper technique of french kissing...
That's probably not what you were going for, though...

Joel said...

I wouldn't say that the extra duties make my job more difficult. They just mean that there is more time requirement for me than for most teachers. But they pay me extra, so I don't complain too much.

Besides, the extra duties are what make band more fun (performances totally rock), and they are what help establish deep friendships between the students.

If I had a choice, I would teach middle school in a smallish town and not have to go to high school rehearsals. That would be a dream come true. :)