This is our second of four posts in honour of Teacher Appreciation Week. Today, Andrew Rains, our eProf Marketing and Support Lead writes about how teachers impacted his decision to work in Education Technology:
I certainly had my fair share of teachers that made impactful and long-lasting contributions to my life. From my very first teacher, Ms. Williams, to my last Professor in University, Prof. Rose, I remember distinct things about each that have shaped how I learned and how I grew.
Yet when I think about teachers, I find myself mostly thinking of my peers at the Exploration Summer Program. Exploration is a US based program that allows College/University students to teach courses to high-school students in a college setting. For many of the college aged students, this represents the first time they charged with standing in front of the class and finally sharing their passion and knowledge. Over the course of the summer sessions the Exploration teachers excitedly and bravely cultivate new passions and thirsts for knowledge within their students. Given a platform on which to teach, their excitement and desire to make a different was personally both inspiring and infectious.
Amongst the student teachers, it was quickly apparent who the naturals were. They approached their classes with a seriousness and dedication not usually found in an Undergraduate as they meticulously planned their courses and classes, the projects, and the milestones that would keep them and their students on track. They were eager to speak about their curriculum and share their tips for effective teaching techniques with the rest of us for whom teaching didn't come nearly as easily. They were 3 days into their career and they were already teaching their peers.
It was pretty clear to me after those summers at Exploration that I wasn't long for a teaching career, but for many of my peers it was equally apparent that there was nothing else in the world that they would do more happily or effectively. They were filled with a passion to teach that Exploration had nurtured. In a society, these are the people we want helping our kids and even ourselves take on the challenges of learning; they are the people we should be supporting at all costs because they in turn pass that support on.
Yet, increasingly often, we're placing more obstacles on the road than we should for these people to realize their dreams of becoming career educators. We're stripping them of resources (time, money, tools, materials), pushing strict (and ill-fitting) curriculum down on them from above, or otherwise restricting them from being effective. In so doing, our society is often failing the teachers and, inevitably, our future generations.
And make no mistake, of our future generations we will be expecting better educations, more creativity, and more independent thought. The progress of our increasingly knowledge based economies expects it. To do so, however, we need teachers that are unburdened by the constraints that, today, they're increasingly faced with. We need those with subject matter expertise and passions to be given a platform from which to teach. We need variety in subject and thought. And we need to support those passionate and brave enough to teach, giving them the tools and resources they need to succeed.
With friction between need and reality often a paradigm shift is the outcome, and we're undoubtedly in the midst of one right now. The democratization of the teaching platform (with a move to digital classrooms) and decentralized learning, where students and teachers are more free to teach and learn in the manner most effective for them have been made possible by new technology and innovations that that improve accessibility. I've wanted to be part of this shift because working at Exploration showed me how true teachers, in the infancy of their careers, deserve a better path to success and, in its absence, a new paradigm in which they can have an impact on the education of others.
I'm happy that I'll play a role (however small) in seeing teaching and learning change with eProf.
Happy Teacher Appreciation Week, and thank you for all that you do.
eProf Partner and Teacher Success