Teaching Subjects or Teaching Students

Teaching school is as much a calling as it is a job. And in fact when you review the teachers at the school where your child will be going, you will notice that the good ones are as much missionaries with a zeal for guiding young minds as they are people who come to work to perform a function. But there can be no question that what makes any school great whether it’s the most expensive private school in town or a public school with overcrowded classes is the quality of the teachers who will be with your child for hours each and every day.

For a teacher, deciding whether to go the public or private school route can be a tough decision. While the environment of every school is different, the calling of each teacher might be somewhat different. For teachers with a specific focus such as in music or art, to teach in a private school devoted to that niche of education is ideal. But many teachers seek to educate young people in a general area of knowledge such as math or english feel called to teach but the subject matter isn’t as crucial. And for this type of teacher who thrives on larger classes and on taking disinterested students and transforming them into devout scholars, the public school setting is a good choice.

For parents evaluating schools, if you sit in on classes and are able to watch teachers work with their students, you can learn a lot just seeing that interaction and observing the body language of the teacher and how they present themselves to the class. Much of the confidence and sense of creative presentation that comes from the best teachers reflects the relationship between the school itself and the teacher.

Many times in a public school situation teachers can become so burdened with rules and stipulations that come down from the state and pertain to student behavior, safety guidelines and other non academic items that, while important, can dilute the pure relationship between teacher and subject and student.

So if you see a teacher who is having success establishing rapport with the students and engaging them with personality and humor in the subject at hand, you may be witnessing a public school administration that made it a point to make the purpose of each classroom to be about education and that is reflected in teacher attitudes as well. This is rare in the public school arena, but it happens.

This is not to say that every private school is staffed 100% with creative and inspiring teachers. So it’s a good idea to evaluate several teachers in any school because, as in any profession, there are good ones and bad ones. One question you can ask while observing any teacher in action might be, “Is this teacher teaching the subject or teaching students.” The difference is the attitude that teacher has toward students. Teachers who love their subject and are just looking for loyal students to absorb their wisdom do not interact with the young people as much.

But teachers who are true educators are fascinated with the learning process in students and love the interaction between student and teacher. You can tell if the instructor likes students and the affection is two ways by watching the body language of teacher and students. If there is a lot of eye contact, frequent smiling and laughter and there is a genuine joy in the room, that is a teacher who was put on this earth to be doing this one task. And that is the kind of teacher you want your child to learn from.

While you are more likely to encounter this kind of teacher in the private school setting, these are the real gems that make any school they work in great. But if you find one particular school where this is the kind of teacher you meet the most as you review classes, that reflects that in addition to teachers who are all about education and all about making great students, you have also found a school that from the administration on down is devoted to taking young people and making them wonderful scholars and lovers of knowledge. And when you find that school, make it your child’s home because that is the place to be.

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