One profession I have the upmost respect for is teachers. I cannot imagine what it would be like inside the classrooms these days. Gone seem the days that we grew up in. Environments are different + while students face the same dilemmas we did as kids, they also are facing a whole new host of struggles! I am just so thankful that today we get a peek inside what it’s like in the classroom these days and what days are like for teachers.
Even better, it’s my amazingly awesome brother-in-law Dave who’s sharing! I have seen his passion for his job spill over into everything and am so proud of the job he does. His students are lucky ones!
So, if you’re wondering what it’s like to be a high school teacher in 2018, take a peek below! I think you will find yourself even more grateful for these amazing adults who put their heart into developing this future generation. Dave, love ya and thanks for sharing!!!!
Teaching high school in 2018 is exhilarating and challenging. I have between 35-40 students in a classroom, all with a wide range of abilities, attitudes towards peers and school, beliefs, pressures, and expectations. Needless to say, they are not the only ones who learn something in the classroom. They teach me so much through their life experiences, their perspectives, and their interests.
I am a high school health and physical education teacher for students in a standard setting and in an alternative learning setting. A philosophy that shapes my teaching, and my life, is based on Carol Dweck’s research found in her book called Mindset. Her research has found that there are two mindsets we can have with learning: a growth mindset or a fixed mindset. I can tell within a matter of a conversation where my students fall, which is incredibly helpful in how I teach. It helps me authentically connect with my students, get at their hearts, and understand the world through their eyes.
When a person has a growth mindset, every challenge is viewed as something you can learn and grow from. Failure is an opportunity to improve, not a reason to stop. Those in a growth mindset are not concerned with what anyone else thinks of them, but just want to get better. A bad test score? What can I do differently next time to take better notes? They receive feedback as feedback, and use it as a tool to do better for the future.
In the fixed mindset, someone believes that they are either above average, average, or below average at everything they do. For example, a student may say, “I am not good at basketball.” In the fixed mindset, they don’t bother trying to gain skills. They believe they were born with the inability for dribbling, shooting, and knowledge of the game.
If a fixed-mindset student says, “I am great at soccer,” and then misses a scoring opportunity, it can be earth-shaking for their self-confidence. They feel embarrassment because they did not live up to the expectations of something they believe they should be good at. And instead of seeking improvement as the outcome, the result is failure. Period. They receive feedback as criticism, and take it personally.
Dweck’s material is being implemented in a growing number of school districts, and I believe this knowledge has a significant impact on our students. (If you are interested in learning more, I would definitely recommend her book. It’s highly approachable, and a wonderful tool for personal awareness and growth. Many students (and adults!) have been relieved and transformed through her research.)
Personally implementing the growth mindset makes the hard days worth it. It’s no a secret that teaching can be challenging. But if one individual’s life is changed for the better based on the way I teach, then it makes the whole year worth it. It’s a rare job, a calling, that offers the opportunity to have direct access to the youth of America’s hearts and minds. I can help mold, shape, and prepare them to be a better generation.
Just like any profession, teaching takes discernment. Some of the challenges that I face daily is deciphering the learning abilities of my students, meeting the standard, and handling what students bring with them into the classroom from home.
The learning abilities of students vary greatly. Some students pick up the material quickly when presented. Others require a different explanation. And a few students, no matter how many times or ways it is presented to them, will not absorb the information or choose to not absorb the information.
All teachers ask, themselves: When do I move on to the next material? How can I tell that the majority of the students learned the standard information? And what is more important: getting through every standard required by the board of education or making sure the students know the standard before moving on, even if that means taking extra time? Teaching certainly requires intuition, care, and being in-tuned with not only the classroom as a whole, but noticing and connecting with individuals.
I’ve learned over the years that a student’s home life has a significant impact on the child’s classroom success. Divorces, mixed families, single parents, and neglected children are becoming more apart of my student’s stories. Too high of expectations or no expectations from parents dramatically impacts their work and learning abilities.
Familial and social stresses are part of the reason educators are seeing a rising amount of anxiety and mental health issues in children. These factors reach the classroom and have a major impact on how the student performs, and how they treat their peers. As a teacher, I have to navigate how to best handle a situation where a student is expressing anger, frustration, anxiety, and fear. Not knowing what is going on at home can be difficult when trying to navigate expectations for my students.
Are there hard days? Certainly. Are there moments of elation? Yes. And do teacher’s count down the days until school’s out for the summer? You bet.
But I get a front row seat to inspire and see the creativity and innovation that comes through the minds of my students. The relationships that are built along the way are so life-giving and joyful, as I see how students grow over the course of the semester. Each school year, teachers are being given more responsibilities than ever before. We put in extra hours and deal with rising behavior issues. Most of us don’t really have summers off, because we find creative ways to make extra income to supplement our teaching salary. We don’t teach for the money. We teach because we love your kids. We teach because hard work is the most rewarding kind of work. We teach because we believe in your kids, their worth, value, and future.
Dave is married to his lovely wife, Courtney (Chelsea’s sister), and they currently live in the Twin Cities area. They are expecting a little boy, their first child, in September. He is an avid sports fan (Go Minnesota!! Vikings, Twins, Timberwolves, Wild, Gophers). He finds joy in connecting and relating to people that he comes into contact with. He loves the Lord and trusts in the His faithfulness, joy, and undeniable peace.
PPS – If you’re ever looking for a devotional on living life while in a waiting season, check out the devotional I co-authored called ‘In the Wait’!
PPPS – Check out the other contributions from this series, including What It’s Like: to experience multiple IVF cycles, raise a child with special needs, use an egg donor, be a DIY-er and home style blogger , be a NICU nurse, Live fully in singleness while still hoping for marriage, suffer with endometriosis. experience depression, start a company, have a micro preemie, lose a parent, be childless not by choice, have a spouse with a chronic illness, fund raise for fertility treatments, have a traumatic birthing experience, take a natural route with infertility, be on a reality show, go through the adoption process, have male factor infertility,be a stay at home mom, be an entertainer, be given a Down syndrome diagnosis for your child , experience multiple miscarriages, have a surrogate, experience a late pregnancy stillbirth, be a police officers wife, be a working mom , be a breastfeeding mother, have weight loss surgery, donate and adopt an embryo, be on a reality show, go through the fostering process, throw a themed dinner party , have PCOS, and have had a cancer diagnosis. Stay tuned for many other amazing topics to come every Tuesday and Friday here!