I had the pleasure today to present to a group of prospective teachers. My presentation was entitled "Why Teach?" but I was preaching to the choir. These guys have already made their decisions. Student teachers, you ask? Education majors?
No...the group of young people I worked with today are high school juniors! It was an absolutely amazing experience. I think back on my junior year...I made a 3 on an Algebra test (out of 100), I broke my nose on the school bus, I "forgot" about my history report because I had to cheer at a basketball game (with a "mask" on my nose,) I went to the prom with my sister's future husband, and he barely said three words (okay, so he talks now), but mostly I remember that college, not to mention my career, were light years away. (Did I know what light years were then?)
Most of the aspiring educators attending the Teaching Career Day at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro are members of one of two groups: the Future Teachers of America (FTA) or the Teacher Cadet program. According to the National Education Association, "FTA clubs assist middle and high school students in exploring teaching as a career choice, provide a realistic understanding of teaching, and encourage students from diverse backgrounds to think seriously about the teaching profession. FTA academies integrate a structured curriculum with classroom-based activities to prepare high school students for college teacher preparation programs." The North Carolina Association of Educators has a similar statement relative to the Teacher Cadet program in our state: "The Teacher Cadet Program is considered an introduction or orientation to the teaching profession. Its main purpose is to encourage students who possess a high level of academic achievement and the personality traits found in good teachers to consider teaching as a career. An important secondary goal of the program is to provide these talented future community leaders with insights about schools."
While these descriptions are official, what I saw today was inspiring. The gleaming eyes of my future colleagues were infectious as the students asked questions about classroom management and instruction as if they already had an education course or two under their belts. I could envision them in classrooms all over our state, and using this "grow your own" model of recruitment, I expect I will someday.
The title of the Career Day was "Exploring Your Future as a 21st Century Teacher." The truth is that these 17 year olds are much more competent in technology than I am. And I'm sure they have three times the energy. I think about our schools of the future...I think back to those faces today...and I feel a great amount of hope for this profession that I love.
Words of Farewell
10 years ago