Related: DC Public Schools, Education, Faculty, Politics, Social Issues, Students

Who Will Teach? Student Voices


Many great comments continue to come in on my original blog in this series Who Will Teach? Students in Early Childhood Education offer these thoughts on the discussion:

Makai Kellogg writes:

“Yesterday after leaving my preschool to go to Trinity for class, I came across a bumper sticker that read “It’s too bad that the people who know how to run the country are too busy teaching school.” After reading President McGuire’s blog, this message rang even more true in spite of the ‘teacher bashing’ that has been going on. I agree that good teachers need to be respected and not criticized because of bad teachers. As a former DCPS student, I have personally experienced problems such as unprepared, unmotivated teachers and facilities that were literally falling apart. At the same time I also had the opportunity to be taught by teachers who told me the truth and used their own resources to better convey meaning to their students. Blaming does not solve anything. Solutions addressing all facets of education, from meeting children’s basic needs to properly training teachers, will better evoke change for the better. I am thankful that I have professors here at Trinity dedicated to preparing and producing high quality teachers so that one day the conversation will shift from the failures of our public schools to how our public schools have become the model for others.”

Juliana Labetti writes:

“It has become the norm to point fingers at those around us and place blame on others for mistakes made by many. This approach will solve nothing. I have heard Dr. Brereton say many times that the only person we can change is our self. It is time for everyone involved in education in this country to reflect inward and determine what they can do to better the current system. The professors in the education department at Trinity allow for their graduate students to take time to reflect on the kinds of teachers we want to become and the steps we must complete in order to accomplish our goals. By encouraging us to challenge ourselves and open our eyes to the changing educational climate, these education professors are insuring that a committed, confident, and well prepared group of new teachers join in the task of improving our children’s education.”

Patti Hellmuth writes:

“My first year of teaching I taught at the Patrick Gavin Middle School in South Boston in a Substantially Separate Classroom under 766. In this classroom, there were six boys – three black and three white who were all from impoverished backgrounds. The boys were in the sixth grade and they could barely read or write. The schools had failed them, their parents had failed them, and no one knew what to do with them. At this point because they had gotten into so much trouble at school, they were not allowed to attend the regular classes, not allowed to eat in the cafeteria, not allowed to participate in sports, and not allowed to be in the hallways without an escort.

“In this classroom, I worked alongside another teacher and we both agreed that the school obviously did not want the boys there and the current curriculum had failed the boys. Therefore, we went onto devise our own plan for the boys and it worked. Our first job was to get the boys to get along and to trust one another and we did. Our next plan was to get the boys educated so, in the morning we taught the boys in school and for the afternoon we took the boys out of school and we visited museums, parks, libraries, and so on. I am happy to report that at the end of the school year, they were all at grade level and feeling much better about themselves.

“I believe in continuing to teach children based on their ability to do the work because not all of the children of all of the people have the same capacity. The solution is to provide a curriculum that meets the needs of the various learners. All teachers and schools need to support an educational philosophy that supports exposing children to different levels of instruction because the reality is that no two children have the same strengths or learn in the same way.

“Trinity has allowed me to meet some wonderful professors and to continue to believe that I can make a difference in children’s lives. My role as a teacher is to inspire students to do their best and not only motivate them to learn, but also teach them how to learn, and doing so in a manner that is relevant, meaningful, and memorable. As a teacher, I must be a strong and original leader with characteristics of honesty, principle and decency because teachers influence students by example. Dr. Brereton has taught me that a good teacher is about style, humor, listening, questioning, being responsive, and remembering that each student and class is different.”

What are your ideas on how to address the challenges of school reform and teacher quality?   Join this discussion by clicking on the “comments” box below and let me know what you think!

Read these previous blogs:

Who Will Teach? (November 1, 2009)

Who Will Teach?  Faculty Respond (November 4, 2009)

Who Will Teach?  More Faculty Voices (November 5, 2009)

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Patricia A. McGuire, President, Trinity, 125 Michigan Ave. NE, Washington, DC 20017
Phone: 202.884.9050   Email: