Being a Kindergarten teacher – or any teacher, for that matter – is no easy task. Effective teachers have brains like a web browser, with 30 tabs open at once throughout the school day. So when I read articles stating that a large portion of teachers in the U.S. are “disengaged” in the classroom, like the recent one at Education Week Teacher, I can’t help but disagree.
The article covers a recent study by Gallup showing that just 30 percent of teachers are “actively engaged” in their jobs. Gallup defines an engaged teacher as one who is “involved with, enthusiastic about, and committed to their work.” By contrast, disengaged teachers are merely satisfied with their jobs and are less likely to look for opportunities for growth or to feel “emotionally connected” to their work.
“Engagement” is a buzzword in education right now. It pops up on teacher evaluation forms, during extremely “disengaging” professional development meetings, and in everyday talk. But as buzzwords spread, they tend to lose meaning and fail to reflect what happens in a real classroom environment.
I’m pulled into my students’ enthusiasm the second they greet me as they walk through my door. They want to tell me every detail about their night or their morning and recap all of the hours outside of my classroom. It’s almost impossible for me to not be involved with and enthusiastic about my students – they are my work. They define me as an educator and give meaning to what I do.
Of course, every teacher struggles with the problems that plague education. There are days I don’t want to go to work. Everyone has those. But instead of giving up, I’m seeking to better myself by pursuing a Master’s degree in Reading. I chose this route because I’m committed to my students and helping them on their road to becoming proficient readers – something that can truly influence their path in life.
Continuing my education offers a way for me to stay engaged in my profession. I learn new things in each class that I immediately want to use in my own classroom to discover whether they work for my students – and for me. It’s exciting to use these new knowledge and techniques in my day-to-day teaching. And my students will continue to benefit from it.
Do I think teachers are actively disengaged from their work and students? No. I think the only people who truly understand how much heart and soul goes into being a teacher are teachers themselves.
Spring Arbor University celebrates the opportunity to strengthen the hearts, spirits and minds of those called to serve God’s children. Whether you’re looking for fresh knowledge to enhance student achievement in your classroom or want to earn your Reading Specialist endorsement in Michigan and go on to become a literacy advocate for K-12 students, learn more about our two-year, online program here.