Exposure to Success, Creativity, and An Educator as a Profession is the Key to Success; A New Outlook.

Education – it’s funny – every time teachers get together and say they do not want to talk shop – well, the ones that truly care are invested do just that – talk shop.  It’s inevitable, if your heart and soul remains into education so does your conversation eventually no matter how hard you try.

Tons of stereotypes about education and teaching:

Those who can, do; those who can’t teach.  –From Bernard Shaw’s Man and Superman.

Summers off, must be nice.

You get to leave the problems of students at school and go home with no additional worries.

Teaching is not really a professions, hence not a professional salary is deserved.

Getting done by 3PM and weekends off?  Easy ride.

These are some of the most popular stereotypes.  You know that individual that might work in the same office, or on the same floor, or neat the same cubicle as you – that doesn’t measure to the amount of time you put in on extra jobs, overtime, and workload you take home?  Welcome to education world.

No matter what stereotypes exist, the best knowledge is diving in and experiencing the educational world, even for a small portion of the time, to find out the truth.  After student teaching in Pittsburgh at Oliver High School, (skipping the chance to go to Ireland – probably the best decision I ever made), working in a emotional/physical rehabilitation center for recovering students, public schools, middle schools, high schools across MD, DE, PA, major rural areas, major urban areas, community colleges, serving as a student assistant at university, working sometimes two jobs outside of school to make it occur, every single experience I worked through, sweat over, and pushed for, involved someone I looked up to that did it that much harder then myself.  In education.  Not for the above stereotypes for the below realities:

Very few can actually be an educator, LET ALONE a teacher.  Teaching is actually – counseling, advising, creating, guiding, mentoring, role modeling, and encouraging.

There are NEVER summers off.  If you are lucky enough to enjoy a few weeks off, where do you think the preparation for the new year occurs?  The time given at the start of the school year is BARELY enough time to get a classroom prepared, let alone curriculum, common core goals that need matched, updated reading materials, materials for the teacher to become updated with changes in legislation, as well as mapping out where extra plans to insure continuing educational credits are maintained to stay qualified as a teacher that fits into the changing roles and expectations of the state to in fact teach.  Even when teachers go to the beach or a hideaway, their brains are planning the above to at least be able to do so in a comfortable setting.

Problems are rarely left at school as there is not enough time on a timed schedule to fully handle and resolve issues in a school day, hence homework, additional plans to enrich students on a different learning level and balancing the lessons to match all needs from hands on, to those who memorize, to those that need to picture concepts, to the students that have been unable to match their grade level and needs supplementary assistance, there is NEVER enough time in a whole day to BARELY keep up.

I have never met an unprofessional teacher that truly impacts those around her or him.  yes, as I mentioned, there are tons of teachers that still push papers and have resolved not to meet the standards of what a teacher needs to do, I value the administrators that do not mind getting their hands dirty STILL, or have been former teachers and have not lost that memory of what needs are essential without acquiring the administrative big and forgetting what teachers truly need – yet for those many that do their job, as you know in any profession, ANY, there are those that do not.  Do not let those that do not influence the way you see others that ARE as professional.  TRUE teachers, TRUE educators ARE professional and they need to be compared to those that are NOT doing their job.  Hence, the professionals need to be recognized, not just on Teacher Day or Education Week, but that anonymous note every month that shows you as a parent, as an admin, as a board member, as a legislator, know something specific they do that changes those around them. 

Physically, contracts mostly, (mostly) indicate a time around 3PM as finish, yet, what is not taken into account is the time needed in the AM to arrive before the rush begins to set a class in motion with the proper materials, objectives, copies, homework to be sorted, reports to be readies, resources to be arranged, as well as relying on no emotional, academic, professional, and personal incidents will occur outside the scheduled school day!  HA!  I have been in education now since 1998, I honestly can seem those that guided me and then myself, I rarely can remember a day that goes by where a day ends at 3PM – maybe for the official schedule but planning, reorganizing, checking for accuracy, revision, correction, just to name a FEW, usually ends, if you’re lucky, by 9:00 PM.

A true educator, strives beyond being just a teacher – and most humble teachers know this.  Hence this video honors those that truly symbolize why teaching is perhaps one of the highest professions one can have – despite the stereotypes and despite the payscales that do not always and rarely indicate this –

I love the question and scenario when individuals around a table ask, What do you make? to a teacher – this reply still seems to sum it up with the energy of what educators do day in and day out.  This is AMAZING.  This is an educator.

I was VERY excited to see :  Senate Passes Every Child Achieves Act, with Music and Arts as Core Subjects, Intact 

There is one thing that is a standard and one thing that is absolute.  From the very first day I learned at Slippery Rock University – when I first finally faced the fact that the literature and the interest in reading should be directed to education, I began as an elementary teacher.  I LOVED – L O V E D the fact that when I began in elementary education that instilled this basic fact – behind every concept, behind every facet of learning, there is creativity and art.  I stopped in this journey I remember at my largest fear, largest obstacle, a class that took the concepts of Math and Math theory.  I know that many students always had this class as an obstacle, and even with A “C” I was excelling in this course – but inside, it was not enough.  After repeating this course after receiving a C, I just needed to know, if I wanted to be a teacher, I was showing success through a grade higher than a C.  I decided at that point to change to secondary education.

This was a proper change that fit my talents, but I would not figure this out – going back years later and playing the role of elementary educator in a secondary teacher, not discounting how to make every single lesson can involve an element of creativity, that is not usual in that lesson.  Yes, that takes constantly monitoring and changing lessons yearly, yes that means using ways of hands on involvement, be it changing the desks every day so a new format mirrors how the real world changes, yes that involved patience in taking one lesson that does not work and be daring, bold, and willing to change a lesson on the turn of a dime, even within the same class.

The decision the Senate has made is not anything that teachers have never known.  We as educators need to pull students to the center of realizing, there is an ART to every discipline, yes there is an art to math, yes there is an art to Science, yes there is a creativity to Civics, and the emphasis on upholding the creative side of education, here in Music and Arts, as a single example, reemphasizes the importance of reaching into a creative side and having everyone recognize this, no matter the discipline, to be successful.

As I reach towards museums, institutes, workshops, conventions, conferences, and other organizational events – this is not, or hasn’t or isn’t ever to continue to create a long resume, vitae or insure security of my future, though I feel it does that too. It is to continually allow my mind as an educator to grow, take the experiences I have obtained to this point and stretch them even further.

The ONLY reason I am successful today in my goals, projects, and aims, focuses back to the amazing teachers that took their time to mentor me, show me how they construct a successful classroom, lend time to create institutes where we can lay out what has worked, what hasn’t worked, what will work, and allow teachers from sometimes all over the world, sometimes just in neighboring districts, to share, and grow.  Add on to that that long long years of amazing students who trusted me, who trusted these ideas and allowed me to experience them alongside the antiquated way of teaching, and these very students who let me reach out to them in class, out of class, through clubs, through risk taking and creating new clubs, through arranging desks and standards in ways that were not meant initially, this is where the true art and creativity lead to success.

I remember when I first started in teacher Education wishing there were so many more courses on Classroom Management. I felt I spent so much time on essential courses that instilled in me the regimen, the structure, the guidelines for being an educator in the profession, but felt lacking in the management side of classroom behaviors.  Looking back, I see the choices I made to be in Pittsburgh as a student teacher, to be in various opportunities outside of the classroom (Intern with the Pittsburgh Pirates, student assistant for an English College class, Writing Center volunteer) – things at times seemed to have nothing to do with actual teaching, well they did.  The discipline I learned from experiences that seemed to had nothing to do with actual instruction? – in fact they did.  The creativity and real-life values, approaches, and strategies I witnessed in professionals, could and did apply to the very lessons I began to adapt in the classroom.  The students realized I believed in them, and they would rise to the challenge.

I can’t emphasize enough this integral truth – if you do everything you do believing in the success of your students based on the very genuine mentors around you, excluding these that wish to place stereotypes open you, and you create your own world that is made up of these very students you believe in? – the world opens up to you.

I am grateful every single day for the students, instructor, parents, administrators, and colleagues that gave so much of themselves to pass that trait onto me, THEY in fact were the ones that allowed me to go on and continue to reach for dreams.

Being a Media Specialist and Librarian is perhaps THE BEST occupation in the world.  As a former English teacher, I now have a little more freedom to reach out to teachers and try to constantly provide resources to them where as an English teacher I found I could only focus on my task at hand, being an English teacher.  AND LET ME STATE – there is nothing wrong with that, I LOVED THAT WORLD (Still do!). I needed to try and give back to those that gave so much to me, and now, I am finding  place where I can try and make sense of the technology, resources, and strategies and try to free up some time for those very teachers, just as I needed guidance and help to free up more time to be more effective.

In touring the Antiguo Colegio de San Ildefonso yesterday, I realized how educators see museums differently.  With the exhibit of Islamic Art, I realized how essential diversity, creativity, and art is to education.  It’s also funny how the educator’s brain never quite turns off, you see exhibits, you see opportunities to create a lesson, an idea, an approach based on everything you come into contact with.  There are still so many times I feel those that see unrelated tasks to the curriculum are more related to succeeding than ever before.  You see the results in students from the beginning to the end of the year.  When the majority of history in education has relied so heavily on test scores to measure success, it is so vital, as an educator, to show how community involvement, creativity, ingenuity, and enthusiasm can also meet those very traditionally hallowed test scores, and these qualities will stick with students far longer than the specific questions, measures, and memorization to simply score higher on a state test.   The need for students to be held to standards of success, ingenuity, community involvement, is an investment in the world’s future, and sits on a much higher scale than test scores that will be left behind in the wake of a student’s future.

Bravo Senate as a move in the right direction.  As educators, we need to continually shift movements towards the success of using what the arts, the environment, what each other, and what institutes can be created to renew, refresh, and celebrate the status of what an education means.  I know that Presidential candidate Trump advocates for a wall to improve the status and growth of the United States. As an educator who has the privilege of working in Mexico, I am GRATEFUL for the education I was provided and supplied with from the United States, and am even MORE GRATEFUL for the experiences that living in another country provide.  To continue to grow as a nation, as well as students, and as educators, collaboration among other countries needs to occur, not border, not walls, and not restrictions.  The ingenuity that occurs in students can help resolve issues that occur in Greece, in immigration in scarcity of rebuilding in Haiti, in relief efforts in Nepal, by encouraging collaboration rather than restricting it, success results.

Welcome to the world of Real Life Education.

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About Harry Brake

Employee of Woodbridge High School, Library Media Specialist, Media crazy! :)
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