Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Organizations for Teachers

Once I become a teacher I will be faced with the difficult decision of deciding which organization if any I want to be a part of. There are two major organizations, the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers, that were designed to protect teachers and improve working conditions. Deciding whether or not to join these organizations proves to be a difficult decision. These organizations help to improve teachers salaries and other working conditions using different strategies like organizing strikes and get the teachers to group together to bargain for certain changes. Some people argue that these organizations are more hurtful then helpful, and they think that these organizations are only interested on improving salaries. People who are against these organizations say that they are more concerned about what is good for the students and these organizations do nothing for the students. I started thinking about which side I was on and whether or not I would want to be a part of either of these organizations.
The National Education Association is the largest professional and employee organization in the nation and has close to 3 million members. This leads me to believe that what they are doing is very beneficial and could be something I would be interested in becoming a part of. The National Education Association gives members free publications that will keep me up to date on the newest research in the Educational field. They also provided free legal services, which as a Physical Education Teacher could come in handy if anyone was ever to get injured in one of my classes. Being able to have free legal services is a very good way to protect myself and my job and is very important to have in the future. This association also gives members a chance to be trained in different areas like technology and academic freedom. Bring technology into the classroom is something that is very important and is something that would be nice to have help with. I have never been technology savvy and it would be great to have help so I could incorporate the most up to date methods in my classes. The National Education Association does work to get teachers better salaries and working conditions but they also work to give teachers opportunities to expand their education and stay up to date. I think that were some people think this organizations focuses too much on the teachers and not the children in the long run it helps both. Teachers need to be able to feel secure in their jobs so they can teach in a way that works for them and their students. If teachers are consistently worried about losing their job or not being able to pay their bills they will not be able to teach to the best of their ability. I think that this organization would benefit me in the future and after some more research I may end up joining once I get a job as a physical educator.
The American Federation of Teachers is a smaller organization but has also done some very important things for teachers. The American Federation of Teachers has always fought for what is right and to make schools better. They were the first to back desegregation of schools even though it was not the most popular thing to do. Member of this organization make the hard decisions and do what is right no matter what. The leaders of this group fight for teachers even if it means going to jail for their beliefs. Being part of a group that is so passionate about their jobs and doing what is right is something that would be very beneficial for me. By surrounding myself with people who are just as passionate about teaching is something that will make me a better teacher. The American Federation of Teachers provides teachers with a multitude of resources that will help to make them a better teacher. I think that both of these organizations have benefits and I can see myself joining one in the future. I think that although critics claim these organizations are hurting schools I have to disagree. I think these organizations do the best they can to make teachers better. Critics also argue that these organizations protect incompetent teachers. I would not be surprised if this has happened once or twice but they are also giving these teachers resources and opportunities to turn it around. I think that these organizations are more helpful then hurtful and something that is important for teachers to have.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Weekend in Raquette Lake

This past weekend I was fortunate enough to get to spend it in Raquette Lake with other students from SUNY Cortland as well as a group from the Wildwood Program. The Wildwood program is a not-for-profit organization that offers a variety of services to people with disabilities. They offer formal private schooling for people aged 3-21, but also continue to provide service to people who are older. One of the many services they offer is providing people of all ages and ability levels a chance to engage in recreational activities. They help people with disabilities to become involved in their communities and give them a chance to participate in activities they enjoy. All of the adults we worked with this weekend are part of the Wildwood program and choose to come to Raquette Lake for a vacation. They paid with their own money to come and spend the weekend with us playing games and spending time in the wilderness. When I first found out about this I was a little intimidated thinking I better come up with some fun games and activities to play with everyone. After meeting everyone it was clear that I could use many of the things I had learned in my classes to make this weekend as fun as possible for everyone. We have learned a lot about inclusion games and making small modifications to games so everyone can participate. During this weekend having the skill to modify a game on the spot was crucial to make sure everyone could participate. Sometimes the modification was as simple as doing a small demonstration first so everyone would understand. Some of the other easy modifications we made were making the playing area smaller or making the distances in the games shorter. This got m thinking about when I will be teaching in the future and how knowing how to do this will be very beneficial. Even if there are no students with disabilities in my class being able to do this for students who are less skilled will also come in handy. This weekend has taught me that over planning is the best thing one can do. It has also taught me that if the games or activities you are trying to teach are not going as planned it is okay to stop and make some adjustments so they do work.
When out in the schools it will be very possible that I will be working with students who have disabilities and this experience has taught me a lot. I have learned that it is imperative that we see the person before the disability. Sometimes we are too quick to label and judge people with disabilities and by doing so we may not see all they are capable in. This weekend I saw people do things that I wouldn’t have expected them to be able to do. I am very glad I got this experience because it taught me a valuable lesson that will make me a better person and educator. Over the weekend I learned that assuming things about someone based in their ability is something that is easy to do but should be avoided at all costs. The disability does not define the person each and everyone has their own personality and it is important to see that and learn what the person is really all about before jumping to any conclusions.

Reasons for teaching

Choosing a career path is a big decision that can be scary for someone how is uncertain of what they want to do with their life.  Choosing teaching for anything other than that it is your passion to inspire and educate youth could be detrimental for your future students.  I think that if someone who is not passionate about teaching makes the decision to become a teacher they better be willing to give it their all.  Teaching is a big responsibility and it requires a lot of time and energy and someone who does not have a passion for teaching will not necessarily put all the effort in that the students deserve.  While reading the first chapter I came across a chart showing the most popular responses for why people teach.  The chart showed that the majority of people  teach because they desire to work with young people.  The second most popular response was value or significance of education to society.  The third most popular was interest in school matter.  These are all great reasons to start teaching and I am happy to hear that these are the reasons most teachers decide to teach.  Some of the less popular responses where long summer vacation, influence of family and job security.  I was happy to hear that these where not the main reason people where starting a career in teaching.  If you are only teaching for these things then it is very possible that you won't be doing everything you can to give the students a good education.  I decided to teach while I was at a summer camp with my friends.  We would play different sports each day and what came easily to my friends and I seemed really difficult for others.  I saw some of my new friends sitting on the side lines because they didn't know how to play or because they felt they were not good enough.  I tried to help them the best I could because I wanted everyone to get as much out of the activities as I was.  I have always been a very physically active person and get a lot of enjoyment out of exercise.  I used to find it hard to imagine why some people did not feel the same way.  Sports and physical activity in general have such a difference in my life and I have gained so many positive things from them that I want everyone to feel this way about them as well.