23
Jul

Why Failure Should Be An Option

Contributed to NJSchoolJobs.com by Freelance writer Emma Matthews

 

Why Failure Should Be an Option

New Jersey has seen some encouraging results recently, with similar year on year results in Math and English, despite the tests being made tougher by the new Common Core standards. While this is really encouraging news, and teachers deserve a round of applause for their part in their students’ success, let’s turn our eyes away from tests and quizzes for a moment and remember why we got into teaching in the first place. Sure, test results are important; it is how we assess how well our students are learning and how we show parents and government that we are doing our jobs properly. It is important for the kids, too, to know how well they are doing compared to their peers, and to give them not only a sense of achievement, but a shrewd idea of what life is going to be like in the big, bad, competitive world they will be going into soon.

Who was your favorite teacher?

However, it has been said by Valore Books that, “one of the noblest paths one can take in life is to become an educator”. It is not noble because our students score better on tests than kids from another class, it is noble because we foster a love of learning about the subject we teach. If we have specialized in a particular topic, it is because we found something there that fascinated us and you can bet your bottom dollar it was because a particular teacher influenced us. Sadly, there is now so much pressure on teachers and students alike to do well, there is precious little time to encourage study of anything that is not on the curriculum or that will not yield measurable results. Organizations like The New Jersey Association for Lifelong Learning encourage adult learners to explore and learn, but children should also get opportunities to learn for the love of the subject, not just because there is a quiz coming up.

The ‘No Marks’ approach

In “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”, the author tries an experiment on his college class and does not give them any marks for their assessments. The students initially hate this plan but gradually, most of them come around to enjoying the subject far more than they had previously. Of course, it could not last. Eventually, students had to be graded, but this does suggest that taking away the pressure of marks and SATs stops the lesson from being something that must be crammed and regurgitated at exam time and turns it back into something that is actually interesting. Why? Because failure has become an option that cannot hurt them.

Failing once is just another step closer to mastery

If babies learnt the way older children have to, they would never learn to walk, talk, or feed themselves because they would be too afraid to try something different. Fortunately for the human race, babies are not afraid of failure so they try to do things and fail, then try to do them again and fail yet again, but they keep on trying until they succeed. It is this persistence and dogged determinism we need to give back to the children in our classes, and the only thing holding them back is a misbegotten fear of failure. Encourage your students to try something completely different, something way out of their comfort zone, and get them to laugh at their own mistakes. Getting things wrong is how we learn to get things right next time, but somehow that lesson has got lost in the push for perfection. Ask your students to tell you something you do not know. They may be surprised to find out that you are not an oracle of all wisdom, but it is important to show them that ignorance is a good starting place for learning something new.

Teachers are role models

Silvio Laccetti, a retired professor from the Stevens Institute of Technology, says that “amazing things can happen” with everyone in the classroom on “an unfinished quest for knowledge and understanding”. He should know. After retirement, he decided to visit 100 past students and have dinner with them, catching up on old times and seeing just how far some of them had come. He was clearly a pretty impressive teacher, with many of his ex-students saying how they had told their own children about him. Maybe we cannot all be that inspiring, or be contenders for the New Jersey Teacher of the Year award, but we can teach our students a few things that will keep them learning for life, and that is a gift no one can take away from them.

2
Jun

Christie Administration eyes new pension system

Governor Christie will unveil his plans for a hybrid pension system that would effect current workers, retirees and future state employees.  NJSpotlight.com provides their analysis.   Read More:  Christie eyes new hybrid pension system

27
May

NJ State Dept of Education Report: Specialized credits boost job options for graduating teachers

A recent report from the NJ State Department of Education shows that having more than one specialty, or specializing in a high-demand field such as special education or science, can improve job prospects for new teacher education graduates.  Read more:  NJ State Dept. of Education Report – Press of Atlantic City

 

 

25
May

NJ State Board of Education hears proposed changes to science, preschool standards

The NJ State Board of Education listened to state education officials propose major changes to the science and preschool curriculums as well as minor tweaks to the health and physical education guidelines .  Read more

 

 

5
May

A Message for Future Educators from a Future Educator!

• “It is one of the most rewarding careers.”
• “Don’t you think you are too smart to become a teacher? Don’t you want to make any money?”
• “Aren’t you aware that this is probably the worst time to go into the teaching profession.”

These are just some of the comments I hear as a pre-service teacher. Some provide words of encouragement, while others attempt to persuade me out of my future career. It is a time of great frustration in education, with national standards, new assessment techniques, and evaluation systems that seem to put teachers in front of paperwork more often than the actual classroom. However, I have taken solace in the fact that I have been blessed with the opportunities available for pre-service teachers.

Every field is dynamically changing to keep up with our quickly moving world. Some say that fifty-percent of what a doctor learns in medical school will be obsolete within the first five years of his or her career. The same applies to teachers. College classes can only provide a small glimpse into the field of education. However, professional development and leadership workshops offer the continued advancement of knowledge that extends beyond the normalcy of college teacher preparation programs.

My main point is to stay involved. But do not let your resume dictate your reasons for staying involved. Instead, attend a conference or seek a leadership role in a teaching club on your campus because you want to enhance yourself as an educator. Your resume should be an added bonus, but never the vehicle driving your motivation. These are the ways we will be able to answer the popular interview question, “What sets you apart from the rest of the applicants for this job?” Having the answer to that question comes from your willingness to extend your knowledge past your teacher preparation program.
And above all, never let anybody discourage you from pursuing what you are meant to do. It is no secret that fifty percent of educators who enter the profession will leave within the first five years. Next time you sit in an education class, look around the room. Statistically, half of your classmates will not be colleagues within five years. So I challenge my fellow pre-service colleagues: pursuit an education outside of the college classroom.

- Kevin Mount
Bio: Kevin is currently a junior elementary education and mathematics double major at The College of New Jersey. His involvement in student organizations has allowed him to stay current in the field of education and assist other pre-service teachers in their journey to becoming certified educators.

11
Feb

Education Commissioner Cerf to step down

New Jersey Education Commissioner Chris Cerf is stepping down as of March 1st to pursue an opportunity with technology firm Amplify Insight, run by former NYC Schools Chancellor Joel Klein.  Educators in NJ, how do you feel about Commissioner Cerf moving on?

Read more: NJ Education Commissioner leaving post

2
Feb

Receive Job Alerts from NJSchoolJobs.com

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14
Dec

1 Year after Newtown, NJ Schools increase security efforts

In the wake of the Newtown, CT school shooting, schools throughout New Jersey have increased their security efforts.  With increased security at front doors to additional school resource officers and safety plans on how to respond in crisis situations, safety is at the forefront of all school personnel.  Read more

What new changes have you seen in your child’s school this year?

14
Nov

NJ State English and Math tests are harder, but results are Even though the NJ State Test

Even though the NJ State Tests in English and Math have gotten harder, the results from those tests are postive. Click here for more information:  State Tests Harder but results are encouraging