Teachers Wanted: Must Love Students

From The New York Times Editorial/ Letters Page

May 4, 2007

To the Editor:

We travel around the country helping urban and rural high schools increase college enrollment rates for economically disadvantaged students. The principals and administrators we meet say that what they need are teachers who love students.

Yes, they admit, a teacher needs the most sophisticated tools and curriculums, as well as expertise in psychology, neuroscience, pedagogy, learning differences, and academic standards. But it is the teacher who has the greatest capacity to care and to connect with the students who makes the biggest difference.

One Buffalo school principal said, “The school district cannot mandate what matters, and what matters most is the ability to love the students.”

Where do we find such teachers, and how can schools of education deliberately begin to cultivate their students’ souls?

Keith W. Frome – Buffalo, May 1, 2007

The writer is the national director of education for College Summit, a non-profit group.

Enough said.

pete

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6 thoughts on “Teachers Wanted: Must Love Students

  1. I am a former teacher for whom the vocation of “teacher” changed so radically that it no longer fulfilled me or seemed a worthwhile outlet for my energies and talents. I love learning and education. I always have and always will. I wanted to be a teacher since I was 10 years old. I lasted 15 years in the profession.

    What drove me out? I did not love regimentation in order to pass unfathomably constructed achievement tests. I customized my materials every year to meet the needs of my students. Creating materials was one of my greatest joys. I wanted the very best for each child in my care. I did not necessarily “love” every student. I regard the profession of teaching along the lines of other professions. Is the best doctor one who “loves” his patients or one who is the most knowledgeable, observant, and perspicacious?

    Being a teacher is like being a coach or consultant. You take an inventory of what the strengths and weaknesses are as well as passions and interests of the individuals and plan strategies to enable them to achieve mastery over a myriad “pearls of wisdom” in ways that enlarge and bolster them as a learning community.

    Learning and insight begets higher levels of learning and insight. I did not want students permanently tied to my apron strings. I wanted them to become accomplished and fully educated people able to pursue whatever goals they set for themselves. I believed absolutely in each student’s ability to grow and achieve greatness, and I did everything in my power to help them do just that.

    Making students feel good every day for not stretching and for just existing and settling for what is easy and comfortable is not love. It is betrayal and will result in society’s utter destruction and in utter individual despair.

  2. I don’t interpret what Keith is saying here is that we should blow sunshine on our students in a haphazard and thoughtless fashion, to merely bolster their self-esteem. I would agree that trying to artificially bolster students’ self-esteem is often not constructive. That’s not what I hear Keith addressing here, however. He’s saying that you can’t mandate what matters, and the love in a person’s heart for his/her students is one of the most important things great teachers have. I think we’ve all known some teachers who not only didn’t love kids, they didn’t like them. They didn’t like their jobs, and the kids knew it. Many things are communicated on a nonverbal level, and where a person’s heart is with respect to their profession is often one of those things.

    I resonate with your comments Keith, we need all teachers to love their kids. And you’re right, you can’t mandate love.

  3. I agree wholeheartedly with loving students. I think however that the education system doesn’t make it very easy to become a teacher today. I am presently an assistant teacher in an early childhood setting. I passed all three NYS exams for certification and yet, I still need to acquire a masters degree in order to qualified for a position that pays well. Currently I am making 27k. It is very discouraging. Additionally, I need to receive financial aide in order to continue my schooling but my salary puts me between the cracks of receiving aide. I don’t want to go into debt for school and start taking out loans. So unfortunately, I feel like the students whom I love and the talent that I have for teaching may be losing to this system.

    A Great Teacher

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