Magazine article Diversity Employers

New Teachers for a New Millennium

Magazine article Diversity Employers

New Teachers for a New Millennium

Article excerpt

Who Was Your Favorite Teacher?

During your elementary and secondary school years, did one teacher stand out from the others and make an extraordinary impact on your life? Was it a charismatic, spirited and entertaining teacher who pulled out all the stops and breathed life into material that would otherwise have been boring? Or was it a stem taskmaster who never let you give less than 100 percent and who challenged you to achieve things you didn't think you were capable of? Or was it a soft-spoken, quietly inspirational teacher who took a personal interest in your academic development, gave you counsel and nurtured your individual talents?

Great teachers may differ in personality and individual teaching styles, but they share a common devotion to excellent teaching. They also share a common enjoyment of their work and an understanding that, by helping to shape the minds of today's children, they are making their imprint on tomorrow's world. Perhaps most importantly, they share an unwavering belief in the capabilities of their students and an absolute commitment to enhancing the lives of the young people they teach.

As Ronald O. Ross, superintendent of the Mount Vernon, N.Y. Public Schools says, "When you think about the most important teachers in your life, chances are that you remember them because they had faith in you, and not because they taught you who the 32nd president was." So think back to those teachers who touched your life. Take a moment to acknowledge their importance in your own development and to thank them for their dedication. And consider the role that you can play in preparing our next generations by pursuing a teaching career.

The Decision to Teach

On the occasion of W.E.B. DuBois' 90th birthday, he delivered a message to his newly born great-grandson. On the subject of work and the mission of one's life, DuBois wrote:

"The return from your work must be the satisfaction which that work brings you and the world's need for that work. With this, life is heaven, or as near as heaven as you can get. Without this..., life is hell."

When it comes to opportunities for personal satisfaction and for doing work that the world truly needs, teaching is simply unmatched by other professions. A recent survey conducted by the Open Society Institute reported that 96 percent of new teachers loved their job, as opposed to only 80 percent of new college graduates overall. These teachers, the survey revealed, most appreciated that teaching enabled them to "make a difference."

America is now facing the challenges of the information age, and teachers are playing an increasingly critical role in developing an educated workforce and an informed citizenry. Across the country and around the globe, institutions ranging from industry, health care, law and technology are undergoing tremendous change. The transformation of each of these fields is being driven by information and knowledge, and is occurring at an incredibly rapid rate. Moore's Law, the universally-accepted theory that ongoing advances in technology will double the speed at which information can be processed every 18 months, demands that swift and constant change will continue to be the rule in practically all walks of life. The job of America's schools at the commencement of the 21st Century, then, is to prepare students to succeed in today's economic and social environment while also strengthening their abilities to adapt to change.

As America's schools and teachers adapt to their new roles in today's complex and information-driven society, they are themselves confronting enormous challenges and changes. Tough new state learning standards are being adopted across the country, and debates over content and curricula are raging. Teacher and administrator shortages exist in most school districts, and will increase in the years to come. As the nation becomes more diverse, the demographic profiles of most districts' student populations are changing dramatically. …

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