Roger Abbe: Teaching presents challenges but offers immense rewards
INKSTER, N.D.--I want to commend Herald Staff Writer Jennifer Johnson on her story about the teacher shortages in North Dakota ("Rising enrollment plus fewer teachers equals trouble for N.D. schools," Page C1, June 28).
INKSTER, N.D.-I want to commend Herald Staff Writer Jennifer Johnson on her story about the teacher shortages in North Dakota ("Rising enrollment plus fewer teachers equals trouble for N.D. schools," Page C1, June 28).
It was well researched and well written. There are many reasons for the shortage, one of which is that there are now many more career options than there were 20 years ago. As young people get more options, it's only natural that some careers, such as education, will attract fewer candidates.
What's unfortunate is that, as noted in the article, it seems that young people are not encouraged to go into education as much as they once were. In fact, in some cases, young people are being discouraged from going into education.
As an educator for the past 35 years, I'm greatly bothered by this.
Education is an extremely fulfilling and rewarding profession. It provides the opportunity to truly make a positive impact on young people in ways that few other people get to experience. While people in many other fields say "what's wrong with young people today?", educators get the chance see the potential in young people and help them build on that potential. Teaching is a great profession.
That's not to say that it's easy. Society has come to expect schools and educators to fix all kinds of societal and personal problems. Many of these problems have been cultural problems for centuries or have existed in families for generations.
Passing more laws that put greater burdens on schools and educators might be well intentioned, but the problems are not fixed that easily.
That's not to say that educators can ignore such problems. Educators must address these problems when they impact a child's learning opportunities. Educators must patiently work with each student as an individual, accepting whatever challenges that entails.
Young people who go into education should expect to work hard. That has never changed, and it applies to success in any occupation.
But educators also must be extremely empathetic and compassionate. They must know when to comfort a child and when to apply tough love.
They must know how to adjust their teaching strategies for a wide variety of abilities and disabilities, and they must be tactful in dealing with a public that at times can have unrealistic expectations.
Educators must comply with all sorts of external expectations and requirements while still keeping their focus on what is best for their students. Teaching is hard work, and it can be very frustrating and discouraging.
So, why do it? What do educators get in return?
In return, they get to see young people grow into responsible and productive adults. They get to see the seed they planted by working with disadvantaged children mature in a way that helps those children overcome those disadvantages and reach their full potential. They get to have former students come to them many years later to say what a positive influence they'd been. They get to make a difference every day.
I've never regretted becoming an educator. It is one of the most rewarding and fulfilling professions anybody could choose. I'll never discourage a hard working, compassionate, creative and dedicated young person from going into education.
Instead, I hope others will join me in encouraging such young people into going into education and in supporting those who make this choice.