Today, as I watched each member of the 2013 graduating class from Spring Lake High School walk across the stage and move into adulthood, I couldn't help but think about that adulthood for future teachers.
Just a couple weeks ago, a former student who is currently in the Air Force and can only gain many credits via online courses, asked for my honest opinion on the field of secondary education. Rightfully so, he's concerned that the job is stagnant and that, when combined with his online courses, his marketability will be low. My response to him and to all students going into education is below.
Keep asking important and tough questions. You're smart to seek out the thoughts from some professionals and I'm just glad that you asked me.
Yes, I think the teaching profession is changing and I DO think school districts (public schools, virtual schools, charter schools and more) are going to make a major mistake of setting a computer in front of a student and call it teaching. They'll do this to save money. Then, they'll realize that it's a big mistake to undervalue the role of the teacher in this situation.
I've learned, in this year of having technology IN my classroom, that the role of the teacher CHANGES, but it doesn't mean less work--not at all. The role changes from the "one in the room who knows the material" to the "motivator, encourager, pusher".
It's an exciting change for teachers: we get to inspire more than teach content.
So, yes, I DO see some slow growth in the profession for a while, but I think the powers that be will see computers, tablets, etc. for what they really are--tools.
As for the online degree you're getting, I think that's only a little hiccup to a MUCH more important theme: will you SHOW the passion it takes?
I think that new teachers will have to show their thoughts, their creations, their goals in different ways and all of that can be done no matter the degree you have. I think it would be smart to create a blog that you can share with future employers to show off your skills.
Plus, it will be ESSENTIAL to share WHY you have that online degree--that you were serving our country when you started thinking about teaching.
Like many other professions, it's important to get to know people within the building where you apply. More than anything (well, not quite--I'll get to that next), you need to be seen, so you can show off your work ethic.
And that gets me to my final point. Nothing stops passion and passion is needed in this profession. IT'S THE BEST JOB IN THE WORLD. So, if you have passion for it, you won't be able to do anything else, making the fact that the profession might slow down and the fact that some of your schooling will result in an online degree, totally and utterly useless. If the passion is there, you can do nothing else.
So, help me world. Help me pass on thoughts to this one young man considering education and to the tens of thousands who graduated and walked across their high school stages.
What do these students NEED to know?