Clix at Epic Adventures Are Often Uncomfortable (http://uncomfortableadventures.blogspot.com/2010/12/interview.html) answered my interview post-op. She brings up a new point about misconceptions about tenure which I completely agree with, but hadn't initially thought of for that question.
How was actually teaching different than what you expected it to be when you went into teaching?
Well, I've got the yearbook, for one thing. And it's not too bad. Frustrating and stressful, definitely, but also liberating.
And I'm better at it than I thought I would be. I'm not being arrogant, here; it's just that I didn't think I'd be much good at all. I really sucked as a student teacher. Management - classroom order, at least - isn't a problem for me any more. Now getting ALL the students to do their work? Still a struggle. But I don't feel too bad about that, because I think there are very, VERY few teachers who can accomplish that. And I haven't given up. :)
What do people not know about schools or teaching that you wish they did?
That tenure does not mean a teacher cannot be fired; it means a teacher cannot be fired because the principal needs to create a position for a friend of his, or because the teacher has lots of experience which, while useful in the classroom, costs more money than a fresh-from-college n00b.
What do you think is the biggest problem facing educators today?
(1) We are being othered. I hear ALL THE TIME that "everyone knows who the bad teachers are." I call BS. And it's not because I teach at a school where everything is rainbows and butterflies and sparkly stickers thereof. At our school, the teachers that students complain about, who use "best practices" only when commanded to by the administration - they're the ones whose students outscore others on state exams. What people mean by this is that somewhere else, in some OTHER area, there are bad teachers who need to be fired. And everyone knows who THEY are.
(2) The public is being LIED TO. Another 'fact' I hear all the time is that teacher quality is the most significant predictor of student achievement. It isn't. The most significant predictor of achievement is POVERTY. The most significant CLASSROOM factor is the quality of the teacher. (You'd think that would be obvious - that the quality of the teacher matters more than the quality of, say, the classroom technology.)
What is the best thing about teaching?
Again, I've gotta do twos: (1) Exploring ideas. I love it, particularly when they're ideas I'm familiar with but I'm re-exploring them with people for whom they're new. My students help me see the material with fresh eyes.
(2) Freedom. I love having summers "off." Since we're not compensated for anything we do over the summer, I can pursue professional development according to my own interests and schedule. The only thing that would make it cooler would be the opportunity to get paid for sharing what I've learned.
Where do you see yourself ten years from now?
Possibly right where I am, although if the teaching environment in Florida cleans up a bit, it'd be VERY tempting to see if I could get a job near Disney World. Then, if I was still spry enough, I could work weekends and holidays at the Magic Kingdom. That would be pretty awesome. I don't love Disney enough to give up teaching, but being able to do both? Yeah. Definitely awesome.
I hope I explained all of that in a way that made sense. I had surgery yesterday (nothing major; they took out my chemo port) and when I took my pain pill this morning it made me loopy - jittery and confused. So if I said something dumb, please forgive. :)