Academic journal article College Student Journal

Teacher Truths: Speaking from the Heart of Educators

Academic journal article College Student Journal

Teacher Truths: Speaking from the Heart of Educators

Article excerpt

When educators are given the opportunity to speak candidly, straight from their heart and soul about their profession, what might they have to say? Twenty-three graduate students enrolled in a Leadership in Education class were given the chance to do exactly that via an on-line discussion board forum assignment. This article reports the results of a descriptive study that was developed to investigate what current educators would identify as their one Teacher Truth. A Teacher Truth was defined as any feeling, belief, or value they have developed from their training and experiences about teaching, about teachers, to teachers, or for teachers.

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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world ... Because they are the only ones that have. Margaret Meade

According to Webster's Dictionary, to teach is to "impart knowledge of or skill in," but today's world presents a problem to teachers in that they must teach more than basic academic knowledge. Today's public school environments are presenting to educators a plethora of newly identified challenges that have not previously been present in schools. Some of those challenges include but are not limited to an increasing lack of parental support, a growth in aggressive violence among students, and rising numbers of discipline problems. Also, the state and federal mandates teachers to address a variety of standardized test score benchmarks that are proving very difficult to meet with the most culturally diverse student body every to enter American classrooms.

Gayle Wilkinson reports (1994) that up to 50% of new teachers will leave teaching within their first seven years. Why do they leave this profession? Perhaps today's teachers are becoming so overwhelmed by the broad new range of responsibilities addressing their classrooms that they are losing their perspective on why they teach. "We worry about what a child will be tomorrow, yet we forget that he or she is someone today" (Tausher, 2002, pg. 295). In the midst of all of these demands and more on teachers, the question becomes what makes a teacher want to teach. What keeps a teacher from leaving the teaching profession? Judith Shively (1992) wrote, "Why did I enter teaching? It was a gift from my high school principal. Why do I stay? Because of the magic, the joy, and the celebrations. Because the growth and development of the kids is the growth and development of me. It is my way to make the world more beautiful" (pg. 57).

Teaching is much more than the ability to impart knowledge of or skill in today's world. Teaching encompasses a parental role, a disciplinarian role, role of the magician of flexibility, and the ability and heart to reach the apathetic student, in addition to daily instruction of state and federal mandates. Teaching is a complex position teachers take in order to instill a love for learning in their students and help the students develop the ability to believe in themselves and their unique talents when they go out to face the unknowns of a future world (Burden & Byrd, 2001).

Oliver Wendell Holmes, as cited in Chicken Soup for the Teacher's Soul, once said "To teach is to learn again." (2001, pg.169). The purpose of this research report is to addresses the sharing of teacher truths from graduate students, who are employed as full time educators, as they reflect on the their professional experiences in the schools and their hearts. As these participants have learned, "Teaching is not purely mechanical delivery of learning skills and knowledge. Learning comes alive and real because teachers help make it so through their own personality and individuality, by teaching from the heart as well as the mind" (Berry, 2001, pg. 48).

An Overview of the Study

Twenty-three graduate students were enrolled in a Leadership in Education course required as a core curriculum class for all post-master's level graduate students pursuing an Educational Specialist Degree in the College of Education. …

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