Investigating Critical & Contemporary Issues in Education/Quality/Expectations

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Onvia Grimsley: Brunswick

There is no doubt that there are various issues that need to be addressed within the realm of education, especially the effects of quality and positive expectations of the educator. Just like mobility, poverty, and gender bias in the classroom, the quality and expectations of the teacher play a major role in the success of the students. Trust, preparation, performance evaluation, and demands outside of instruction, all affect the level of effectiveness and comprehension between the teacher and the student.

Trust has been defined as a relationship of reliance. Whether it is between two people or many persons, trust is found to be a key element in the amount of success a person possesses. The trust between teacher and student is critical and could make the big difference in the level of communication between them. In the article “Trust Versus Manipulation” Anne C. Lewis states, “The children and parents entering the schools do so trusting that they will be treated fairly and that the learning they encounter will challenge them. The teachers trust that their students will want to learn and that their students will want to learn and that their own pedagogical skills can help make that happen.” She implies that the “relationship” between the parents, students and teachers, rests on the level and exertion of trust that each party exhibits. One way for educators to ensure that they are trustworthy is by informing the student that they are confident in their knowledge and displaying that confidence throughout the school year. When a student notices that the teacher isn’t confident with their own work, they may turn to someone else to educate them or not turn to anyone at all. Though it may not seem that having at least a small level of trust is not vital, eventually, the effects of that missing element will manifest either in the teachers attempt to educate, the parents involvement, or the students’ lack of enthusiasm for learning.

Imagine you are getting ready to change a baby boy who has soiled his diaper. To reduce the risk of being urinated on you will prepare all the materials needed in order to make the diaper change quick and mess free. This scenario is similar to education in many ways. Many people enter the world of education without being prepared and we can see the effects of this insufficiency in our current education system. We don’t know the reasons people choose to become educators but we do know that they are expected to use their knowledge and training to help our students to become successful. The workload, census of students, and disciplinary issues are some areas that require preparation in order to decrease the level of stress and increase the level of participation in the classroom. George Klinkhamer, a State Plan officer for the Bureau of Education for the Handicapped, informs us that “Several states have adopted dual certification and prescribe that specific academic training be taken in both areas of special education and vocational education.” He implies that a specialized field of education alone cannot help the children utilize the information that the teacher provides and that teachers must also be able to incorporate “real world” instances into the curriculum to maximize the level of comprehension. Being prepared is not just having the physical materials to do the work; it is also having the mentality to perform as well. Several states, including Georgia, have begun this reactive plan of preparation in order to improve the percentage of miscommunication within the education field and to educate the teacher on the importance of being mentally prepared for the different day-to-day situations within the education field.

“There is nothing like setting a date for some kind or performance to motivate us to practice and to make that practice smarter and more efficient.” Gail Berenson, NCTM, MTNA President imposes the best example of performance evaluation in a way that we all are able to understand. When you are motivated to do a good job, many efforts are made to ensure that your performance is at its best. Whether it is for a personal achievement or for someone else’s, a performance evaluation is a critical component to maximum achievement. As teachers, our performance should constantly be evaluated in order to ensure that the students comprehend the projected lesson. Berenson informs us that “As role models for our students, we want them to recognize that learning continues throughout our lives.” This is one misconception that a lot of students have about education that really needs to be corrected. We must constantly inform them that education neither begins nor end in the classroom and our performance is a great example of that fact. Some methods like inviting fellow co-workers to monitor class periods or using a camcorder could help with the performance evaluation. Workshops that focus on classroom scenarios may be offered and should be taken advantage of should the opportunity arise. Seeking evaluation outside of the classroom allows the educator to see just how the students perceive them inside the classroom and thus improve or adjust the technique used in order to improve or adjust the way students perceive the curriculum.

There is no doubt that outside forces impact the enthusiasm and effectiveness of an educators’ performance and as a student, I know just how outside forces impact my learning ability and how I perceive my educator during that particular time. Issues like money, relationships, children, bills are all things that can play a part in the classroom even though the intent is not present. “One of the most basic generalizations of the biological sciences is that all living organisms tend to vary their activities in response to changed conditions in their environments.” George W. Denmark offers the quote in his article “Do Schools Have a Role in Adjustment?” In his article he suggests that schools do play a role in adjustment and that we are able to not allow outside forces to influence our performance in the classroom. This factor is one where the critical component varies from person to person. At this point in our lives, we have seen that different situation affect different people differently, so it is quite difficult to offer a remedy. Things like breathing exercises and focusing on positive aspects such as another child becoming successful because you were part of their education process, are helpful tools to not allow the influence of outside forces hinder the primary reason you are a teacher.

Though there are many other issues visible in education, addressing a few at a time will be beneficial to the progression process. The level of trust, preparation, performance evaluation, and demands outside of instruction are just a few that deserve attention but we all know that with the progression of these issues come the arise of new more threatening contributors to the quality and expectations of the teacher/student relationship.

  Work Cited Denemark, G. W. (1958). Do Schools Have a Role in Adjustment? Educational Leadership, 66-71. Gail Berenson, N. M. (2009). Seeking Inspiration for Our Students nd Ourselves! American Music Teacher, 2. Klinkhamer, G. E. (2006). We are beginning to look at the importance of preparation before entering the work world. New York: The Macmillan Company. Lewis, A. C. (2005, September). Trust Versus Manipulation. Wshington Commentary, p. 4.



A new policy brief picks up on the well established finding that the practice of paying teachers for earning master's degrees--and any ol' master's degree will do--is a waste of taxpayer dollars and runs with it.

Authors Marguerite Roza from the Center on Reinventing Public Education and Raegen Miller from the Center for American Progress, make an argument that makes all too much sense. If teachers knew that their pay was tied to a measure of their effectiveness, they might make wiser choices about pursuing more education. They might, for instance, get higher degrees in math or science, where there is some evidence they help student achievement, or in the science of reading (if they could find a college or university actually offering some non-bogus instruction). Instead, because the type of degree doesn't matter, teachers flock to relatively easy programs in curriculum or administration with no evidence that these degrees add value. Of the 47.2 percent of all teachers with master's degrees, 90 percent get education degrees. Even secondary school teachers go for the education degree, with only about 23 percent specializing in academic subjects.

One might argue that because teachers aren't overly sensitive to monetary reward, policies that encourage earning advanced degrees don't matter all that much. Not true. In Washington state where teachers get the highest bump up for earning a master's degree, 56 percent of teachers have a master's degrees; in Texas where teachers get the smallest bump, just 27 percent of the teacher force have master's degrees. Most states spend between 1 and 2 percent of their education budget on these degrees.