Why be a teacher?

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While teaching is a mostly overlooked profession by students and even some parents, it often doesn’t get the respect it deserves. Especially with the pandemic, teachers not only have the responsibility of keeping their students in check, but they also now have the responsibility of figuring out how to use technology effectively in their teaching.

I went out on a mission to finally get the answers to questions every student has been asking. With the help of two teachers at Mount Saint Joseph High School, Mrs. Allison White and Mr. David Dutrow, I now believe I have answered some of these questions and can finally give this career the respect it deserves.

First of all, it’s important to know what qualities a teacher needs to have in order to be successful. According to both my interviewees, they both came to the conclusion that a good teacher needs to be flexible and be able to adapt quickly. “We’re always changing the way that we do things,” Mrs. White said. Mr. Dutrow also brought up that he was able to connect with the students in a way that makes them excited to go to his class, like I was the prior two years when I was one of his students.

Mount St. Joseph Science Teacher Mrs. Allison White (Photo Credit: Jon Bleiweis / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Being able to interact and engage with the students was not only a good way to be a successful teacher, but that’s also many teachers’ favorite part about teaching. Having a face-to-face interaction with the people you teach, especially during this difficult time, is important when it comes to the students wanting to learn. “Having that human interaction really makes what we do here so special”, said Mr. Dutrow.

As I’ve learned over the years of being in high school, every teacher has their own unique style of teaching. I actually chose to interview Mrs. White and Mr. Dutrow because I liked their teaching styles when I had them as a teacher. Mrs. White said that she started with mostly lecturing. Now she focuses more on getting the students involved in what she’s teaching by doing group work and hands-on assessments rather than just PowerPoint presentations, saying “I want students to learn other things other than environmental science.”

When I was in her class, there was one project we did that really exemplified this, when we were studying different species of trees. Mrs. White gave us the chance to go around campus and pick out leaves of the trees we were gonna study and put them in a book. The next day, we went behind our baseball field to look at leaves of trees and try to identify them. This was a great example of a non-lecture style and getting the students involved in what she wants them to learn.

“Teaching is a demanding profession”

Mr. David Dutrow

Mr. Dutrow was also very lecture based in the beginning, but now thanks to technological advances, he is able to use that to his advantage by engaging with the students in something they are familiar with. One way he was able to adapt to the ever-changing technology, while still keeping the students active in his class, was he found this website where students go in groups of three and pick characters. Each character had an ability related to things in class such as helping one of your teammates out with a question or a free answer on a quiz to the person who used the ability as well as their teammates. It added competition to the classroom and we all really enjoyed it.

Mount St. Joseph English Teacher Mr. David Dutrow.

With students focusing on the work they have to do, they don’t think of all the work every teacher goes through to make their hybrid or virtual school experience as fun and worthwhile as possible. I would think that most teachers tend to spend a little less, if not just as much time, outside the classroom as they do in it. They spend so much time preparing for classes, grading papers and just keeping everything under control. Mr. Dutrow specifically told me that he spends around 40 hours a week in the classroom and around 30 hours a week outside the classroom. When you think about it, there isn’t a lot of time in between for free time or to take care of themselves.

If this still sounds like something you would be interested in pursuing, do you need to have a degree in education as well as your field of teaching? Mrs. White said that most teachers major in the field they want to teach then possibly minor in education. Mr. Dutrow said that while an education degree is required, you should be able to teach students if you are passionate about what you’re teaching. For anybody who may want to be a teacher in the future, keep those things in mind when you go through high school and college. 

With everything teachers go through, from spending extra hours at home preparing lessons to going out of their way to making students succeed in their classroom, teachers deserve a serious pat on the back for their work and effort. The next time you step into any classroom (whether on campus or virtually), just take a moment to appreciate your teacher. And when you have one of those really worthwhile, and eye-opening classes, make sure to thank your teacher – I know they will appreciate hearing that their hard work made a difference.

Andrew Gonder is a senior member of the Multimedia Journalism class.