Teaching Is Still a Rewarding Career
Changes in education as a result of reform are increasing the difficulties of teaching in Ontario’s classrooms, but at the end of the day, it remains a special calling.
In an article in the last issue of Professionally Speaking, I said that I was surprised that the applications to teacher education programs in Ontario had dropped significantly. A number of readers responded immediately to tell me that they could not understand how I could be surprised that teaching is not the attractive profession it once was.
There has been too much change demanded of teachers with too few supports, they said, and you must be out of touch to be surprised that fewer young people are choosing to join the teaching profession.
Although I am very aware of the challenges and pressures that are inherent in a teaching career in Ontario today, I still feel very positively about the teaching profession and continue to believe that teaching remains one of the most rewarding
T O O F E W S U P P O R T S
The difficulties that teachers raise are real. There has been constant change over the past several years that has introduced significant stresses to the teaching environment with too few supports for those who are responsible for making those changes work. I appreciate the frustration that teachers, administrators, students and parents experience as a result of the politics of education in today’s Ontario. I am the husband of an elementary school principal; our eldest daughter is completing her first year of teaching. Another daughter is an undergraduate student preparing to enter teacher training and our son – our youngest – graduated from secondary school this year. As you can imagine, teaching and the current state of education in Ontario are ongoing topics of conversation in our home. While it is true that school reform is creating enormous stresses for teachers and for our education system, I firmly believe that we will get through these very difficult times. Further, I am confident that our profession can withstand the pressures brought on by the debilitating and often mean-spirited attacks on our credibility and integrity. Despite all of the difficulties challenging teachers today, I feel that I can continue to recommend our profession with a clear conscience to any person looking for a purpose in his or her professional life. In fact, as parents, my wife and I have done just that with our own youngsters. Teachers I admired and respected encouraged me to choose teaching as a career. As members of the profession, it is incumbent on each and every one of us to encourage others to consider teaching. It begins with you and me. If not us, then who?
D I F F I C U L T B U T E X C I T I N G T I M E
This is a difficult but an exciting time for teachers. For all of the voices that want to blame teachers for what are seen as the shortcomings of the Ontario education system, there are so many more voices urging society to value and treasure its teachers. Professionally, we continue to learn more and more about how children learn and how to teach students more effectively. Above all, there is a growing realization that the quality of teaching is the single most important factor in student learning. I continue to be a proud member of the teaching profession. This is no less true today in my role as registrar than it was some 35 years ago when I first entered the classroom as a teacher. Yes, it was a different classroom. Yes, it is far more difficult to be a teacher today. That said, those entering the profession today are better educated and so much better prepared for teaching. Regardless, the opportunity to share knowledge and to shape young minds remains just as exciting and as much of a privilege today as it ever has been.
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