I just read Ricochet's answers to my interview. She has a great blog and you should check it out if you haven't (http://ricochet07.blogspot.com/). Anyway, I found it interesting that so many of the same ideas came out and she hadn't even read the answers that I wrote. So, here is her answers.
My background information is that I am in my sixth year of teaching in an suburban/rural school in the South. I teach math. I have 2 years in middle school, 2 years of freshmen in high school and am in my second year of teaching seniors.
How was actually teaching different than what you expected it to be when you went into teaching?
I was surprised about how little responsibility any of the groups of kids that I teach will take in their own education. Bringing a pencil to class (or not) is just symptomatic of the larger picture. They won't stop talking when you are reviewing for a test. They won't participate in state tests that determine their future, sometime to the point of not even coming to class. And then they want do-overs.
What do people not know about schools or teaching that you wish they did?
1) That when budgets are cut, SOMEONE still has to pay for supplies (paper and pencil at minimum). I am seeing more and more teachers declaring that the someone is no longer ME.
2) The emotional toll it takes on the teacher, trying to do the right thing by everybody: the student, the administration, the colleagues, the parents, the state, the teacher.
3) How difficult it is sometimes to teach the content dictated by people who do not adequately convey their intent.
What do you think is the biggest problem facing educators today?
Testing. There is too much of it and (at least in my state) the testing is not necessarily related to the material taught. My state says that the tests come from the standards as do the classroom instruction. Then why have they had to throw out several test scores statewide? (middle grades social studies, 9th grade math to name 2 over the past five years) If everyting were meaningful, there would be no reason to throw anything out.
What is the best thing about teaching?
That lightbulb moment - that moment when the student GETS IT - whether it is a concept in math or his/her worthiness as a human being.
Where do you see yourself ten years from now?
Same show, different day. I see myself teaching some sort of math.