the problems teachers face today

Being a teacher isn’t easy.

The salary isn’t that great. It’s often tiring. And thanks to many parents today, it can be quite stressful.

Me, I love it.

Though not when I worked for a company. When I ventured out and began running my own school, I found it was both a rewarding experience and an invaluable lesson on human nature.

Two of my other friends, on the other hand, left the profession recently despite their love of teaching.

What made them leave?

I’ll get to that.

One of the things I always find funny is that parents today think that it’s the teacher’s fault that their kids aren’t doing well.

Now I’m the first to admit that some teachers really shouldn’t have become teachers, but to think that it’s solely the teacher’s fault that a student fails is ludicrous.

Any rational person understands that there are two sides to every equation.

In this case, it’s the teacher teaches and the student learns.

Both sides have a responsibility.

But speaking from experience, I can say that no matter how hard a teacher teaches, if the student doesn’t want to learn, they won’t.

How do I know? Because back in high school, I was the student that didn’t want to learn when it came to Spanish.

As the saying goes, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”

I wasn’t ready in high school and sadly, some students are never ready. They simply are too busy living to care about studying.

Some change, some don’t but the point is that the key component is the student themselves.

Heck, I’ve had bad teachers. We all have.

Their material was as interesting as paint drying, their lack of interest was palpable and how they even became teachers in the first place is a mystery.

But where does it say in the rule book, that I can’t educate myself?

I could always go and study the material myself at the local library. I could ask my parents to teach me. I’ve got the Internet just waiting to be accessed. The knowledge is out there…

The question is whether the student is going to BLAME others, or TAKE ACTION and learn the material.

And all parents would be well to remember this advice.

Whenever I taught, I did my best to find ways to make students interested in the subject matter or me while always trying to get to know them better.

I did magic tricks, I told jokes, I brought in items from my travels, I wore wigs…it was open season.

To put it another way, I did whatever I could to MOTIVATE students.

Thankfully, over time, I would finally break down even the strongest of walls of resistance. But my track record isn’t 100% and still to this day I’m saddened that I was never able to get through to two students, no matter how hard I tried.

But most teachers are in a very different situation. They are handcuffed.

Just yesterday I was reading about how the daughter-in-law of Nike co-founder Bill Bowerman, who has served as a volunteer high school track and field coach in Oregon, was fired after an investigation revealed that she had escorted a 17-year-old boy from her track squad to the school’s prom.

The boy had mentioned that he didn’t have a date for prom to his coach, Melissa Bowerman, and was also struggling with his English grades meaning he might lose his position on the squad.

Melissa agreed to go with him to prom on the condition that he got his grades up in order to motivate him.

It worked.

Not only that, but the boy’s father was OK with the coach escorting his son because she had been like a “surrogate mom to these kids for years.” (notice it says years, meaning her reputation proceeded her)

So let me get this straight…a coach helps motivate a student to get their grades up, the boy is able to stay on the team, the father is perfectly fine with the situation, there was no hanky-panky going on and the coach was working as a volunteer.

The result? She’s fired.

Great, just what we need: Another teacher who truly cares about their students losing their job.

Which brings me back to my two friends that left the teaching profession.

They left because of three main reasons:

  1. Lack of support from administration
  2. Fear of lawsuits from parents, resulting in their dismissal
  3. Salaries became linked to their students’ achievements

Reading Bowerman’s story and hearing my friends’ experiences I am saddened to know that the teaching profession has lost yet another 3 good teachers and sent a clear message to all other teachers – do just what you are told, nothing more.

In every business we need people who are willing to go the extra mile, to challenge the status quo to make things better.

In my research of success that every successful business out there (Google being a great example) provides the following:

  • Ongoing training
  • A certain amount of freedom is given to their employees
  • Flexibility
  • Space for creativity

Successful businesses know that they are only as successful as the people who work for it.

I’ve followed these principles and they have worked for me with my businesses. They will work for you, too.

I hope your company does the same.

And if not, a question you should be asking yourself is “Why not?”

Adrian Shepherd

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