Teachers have a very important but difficult job in our society. They are educators, counselors, coaches, friends, and sometimes even a parental figure all at the same time. This is a very heavy burden to carry while trying to educate our youth. The two teachers that were interviewed for this paper were Victoria Rivera, a sixth grade teacher from Brooklyn, New York, and Marcus Williams, a high school history teacher that also lives in Brooklyn, New York. Mrs. Rivera was the first of the two interviews.
Victoria Rivera wanted to become a teacher her entire life, and has achieved that goal by becoming one. She graduated with a teaching degree from Brooklyn College , and has been teaching in the New York City public school system since 1983. Her main reason for becoming a teacher was because of past teachers. During the interview, she said that she was impressed by teachers she had as a child. She also added that as a youth, she found it amusing to play school while working on her own studies. “I retained what I learned through role playing as a teacher,” was one of her responses.
Marcus Williams was the second interview. He graduated from Hunter College, in Manhattan, and has been teaching in New York City public high schools for about 6 years. When asked his main reason for becoming a teacher his response was, “There are a lack of positive African-American male teachers in New York. I feel that young minority males especially African-Americans need positive men figures in their life anyway they can get it.” Mr. Williams also said that he feels teaching is essential for trying to give young people good education.
Mrs. Rivera is really a teacher that strongly cares about the students. When asked what is her opinion of an outstanding teacher, Mrs. Rivera’s first response was, “A person who can retain children’s attention while they achieve their aim or goal…” She said that this is important because there are so many distractions in today’s society, that it is difficult, but important for teachers to meet the challenges of today’s student. She came off as very caring, and student oriented.
On the other hand, Mr. Williams believed that an outstanding teacher was someone students could closely relate to. He felt that students need to feel comfortable around teachers. He said, “One of the reasons that I help coach the football team is because students can see me on a more personal level. I am very close to some of the players on the team, and at times I feel as if they look at me as an older friend, and counselor, rather then just another history teacher.”
Mrs. Rivera was then asked what major teaching strategies does she use. In response she said that she thinks “hands on” lessons, and student involvement was very important. She said that student involvement in class discussions often leads to student interaction. “Students remember better when they talk about a topic themselves, instead of just taking notes.” Mr. Williams happened to agree with Mrs. Rivera. He said during his interview that in his classes there are many discussions about current events, and also the lessons. He felt that students are capable of having intelligent conversation whether the discussion is about a research paper for class, or a discussion about the possible war in Iraq.
Both Mr. Williams, and Mrs. Rivera said that the workload after school is the most difficult part of teaching to deal with. Mrs. Rivera said that she spends two to three hours after school doing paperwork. On the other hand Mr. Williams said that after football practice he spends between two to four hours grading papers, tests and doing other paperwork. He teaches six different sections a day, compared to the one class that Mrs. Rivera has all day. Mrs. Rivera also said that discipline, and lack of parental involvement are also difficulties she comes across teaching. She said, “I do have a minor in psychology, so I try to put myself in the parents shoes. I try to stay positive and understand parents situations, but have to get the point across of how students should progress.” Mr. Williams agreed with Mrs. Rivera’s comments. He said that at the high school level there is an even greater lack of parental involvement then in the elementary schools.
In conclusion from the two interviews, I have learned both some of the positives, and negatives of teaching. Paperwork, and lack of parental involvement seem to be the most difficult problems to overcome. Both Mrs. Rivera, and Mr. Williams are dedicated to helping students achieve overall success in education, and also in life. They are two teachers who want nothing else but to help the students they are dealing with, and to be successful professionals.