It’s extremely rare that I read something I agree with 100%. Here’s a nice exception: Ellen Meyer’s article, Keeping New Teachers From Dropping Out (Gotham Gazette, via Tim). It gives a great analysis of what teaching is, as well as explaining why many who try it out don’t last long. One of the many great excerpts:
Teaching is all about relationships — the building of relationships between teacher and students. That’s why it is so hard. One elementary school teacher must have relationships with up to 35 very different individuals, each with diverse learning styles, needs, and levels of engagement. A high school teacher will typically teach 150 students.
There is research on the extraordinary number of decisions that a teacher has to make at any given moment —- more decisions minute-by-minute than a brain surgeon. The most conservative estimate from this data has teachers making approximately 130 decisions per hour during a six-hour school day, and this reflects only those decisions made within the classroom. This is extraordinarily daunting and often intimidating for new teachers. It makes support from administrators and colleagues so vital.
The article also provides great justification for the advice I typically give people who ask me my opinion about Teach For America or New York Teaching Fellows: It’s a horrible idea, but more people should do it.