I have been involved in teaching and coaching young children for almost 30 years in a variety of settings, and I have seen dramatic changes in the expectations and responsibilities of students and of teachers. During that same time frame, the government has become more and more involved in its demands for accountability of students, teachers and schools.
What a novel way of passing on the buck, but at the same time not passing the bucks on. I am not talking about raising teacher salaries. I am talking about supplying schools with the resources they need to educate the evolving students of today and tomorrow.
Gone are the old school days of yesterday in which the teacher lectured, gave you problems to do, and by gosh students got it or else. The student of today does not respond to such tactics and instead of doing homework will often put on the iPod, take out the iPhone and disappear in a text chat with a multitude of friends all at once.
Doing schoolwork is often an afterthought for students today. So how do we turn the tide on this indifferent attitude students often put on education? We find a way to make it not so boring!
At 57 years old, change does not come so easy. However, I have come to realize that the student of today is just as stubborn as I am, and that the only way I, as a teacher, can be successful is if the students are successful. We as teachers must try new approaches to overcoming this dilemma. We must change the way we do business. The students are often disengaged and we must surmount that boredom as teachers. We have to captivate our students’ imaginations. We not only have to captivate them, we must entertain them as well.
I am pleased to announce that at PAISD the old school atmosphere is not the norm. I could give you endless examples of teachers creating unique and inviting learning atmospheres, and of teachers trying new and different ways of implementing lessons, in order to combat the boredom. In my own personal case, I have created individual characters who on occasion visit the class as a guest presenter to lead activities (and captivate the audience while doing so). The names of Dr. Fweddy Fwaction, Chef Cleaver and Safari Sam may be bounced around the house someday, but don’t be alarmed -- they have caught the students’ imaginations.
I have to say that in 30 years of education, I have never been involved with such a small community and staff that are so determined to provide an exemplary level of education. I find this evident in the financial support that has been provided to the Brundrett Middle School math department.
We have been provided with numerous technological tools as well as ongoing training through the math initiative program, which has lead to exposure to a variety of new and proven teacher strategies. Backers also have promoted the purchase and use of Study Island, which is a conglomeration of self-paced computer tutorials and lessons that can allow for teaching multiple level students in a single setting.
In other words, the Port Aransas ISD is very aggressive in trying to ensure the educational development of its students by providing all the tools necessary to help teachers make students more successful. We, as teachers and staff, are given the freedom and encouragement to be creative in our individual classrooms, and this allows us the opportunity to challenge the uninterested student.
As a result, there are multitudes of different approaches and strategies taking place in the classroom. You, as taxpayers, should rest assured that your tax dollar is being well spent. Port Aransas ISD is an exemplary example of creative teachers, an open-minded administration and a concerned community coming together to form an exemplary learning environment in which we challenge the old school way of doing business. Sometimes, change is good.
Now, if the government could just cut out the paperwork and let us get to teaching.
Joe Kocurek teaches math at Brundrett Middle School and is head basketball coach at Port Aransas High School.