Teach Students Not a Subject

I am from a family of teachers.  My mom was an elementary teacher, my dad was a middle school teacher, and my two brothers are high school teachers.  When I decided that I wanted to be a teacher too, I had to make a decision on what level of education I want to teach.  I had a professor tell me “If you enjoy children you should be an elementary teacher and if you enjoy a subject, you should be a high school teacher.”  I was confused because I had family members at every level of education and I know we all enjoy helping children.  I am currently in my 16th year of teaching high school math, and the more I think about what that professor said, the more I realize what the problem is with education.  Too many teachers get caught up in teaching their subject instead of teaching their students.  I have been guilty of it, and I know it is a constant struggle for most teachers.   Part of the problem is the constant pressure that is put on teachers about their standardized tests scores.  Teachers feel they have to “cover” the standards in their subject to get their students ready for “the test” and we tend to lose sight of “teaching” the students. I have to constantly remind myself that I am not teaching math I am teaching children.  The best advise I ever got was “Kids don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care” and if we can focus on teaching the students everything else will take care of itself.  We will see test scores rise, school morale will increase, classroom behavior will improve, teacher-student relationships will improve, and the school will be a better teaching and learning environment for everyone.

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