My short bio: Hi Reddit. My mom has been teaching preschool and elementary school for 30+ years!
She would be happy to answer any questions that you might have about how students and teaching has changed over the years.
Ask her anything!
Can I go to the bathroom?
I’m currently in my fourth year teaching, and it’s my first year at an inner-city school. I teach middle school social studies right now. It’s incredibly difficult dealing with parents (or lack thereof), the students’ discipline, and a district that still operates archaically and refuses to change. How can I keep from burning out early?
(my mom cringed when she heard inner city)
Have a set format when coming in and try to not teach too many different skills. Find an older teacher to help mentor you. Have an agenda coming in.
Build your own self confidence by developing your own style. The students learn your style you don’t learn theirs.
parents ALWAYS say the positive first, NEVER put the negative in writing. Say everything in the most positive light. Greet the parents at the door, don’t let them see you at the desk.
Make a checklist on the board.
Find an older teacher who has learned the ropes!
How often do kids from 20 or so years ago come back and visit?
I may have seen about 10 or so. Every time it’s a blessing.
What is the biggest obstacle to overcome in regards to giving future generations the tools they need to succeed?
Way to many standards for each subject. Before it was basic skills and teaching students at their own pace. Now you have to teach all of the standards and teacher have to teach them all!
Before it was about teaching to learn, now it’s about teaching for test.
I have seen schools make it hard for the parents that did not test well. Teachers also only want students based off of how well they test.
What’s different about today’s kids than kids 20-30 years ago?
few differences according to my perspective: Twenty to thirty years ago students were more aware and respected the authority of the classroom teacher. For example, students did not say or exhibit certain behaviors within eyesight of teachers. If a student did not like the teacher, the teacher was never aware of it. Today, some students are very vocal about how they feel about teachers and will let the teachers know how they feel.
attention spans Students twenty to thirty years ago attention span was longer. For example, today’s students want instant solutions or gratification to problems.
homework assignments When assignments were given, a teacher did not have to ask for the assignments to be turned in when due.
You said, “Today, some students are very vocal about how they feel about teachers and will let the teachers know how they feel.” Do you consider this a good or a bad thing? Why?
It all depends about how they let you know.
Many times it’s in a disruptive and violent way. Other times is personal and honest.
My sisters teacher has informed me that she has now failed 2nd grade and will need to repeat it. She does fine in math but she reads information and does not process it. What is your opinion on this and what do you think we should do?
I would recommend remediation. She might just benefit from a small group setting.
What is the hardest part of working with young kids? The most enjoyable part(s)?
Their lack of attention and patience.
When you see a failing student succeed.
A lot of schools are teaching more technology driven classes, such as using computers and tablets to teach lessons. Have you been part of this transition and do you find a child’s ability to learn is better/worse/equal to how you previously taught?
pros The access to instant information has made the world smaller! It’s much more hands all more interactive and more individualized!
cons The downside is the lack of “face to face” social skills. Kids just aren’t as used to talking one on one.
What’s the weirdest thing you ever encountered a child doing?
When I was teaching a male student once lifted up his pants to show that he had stockings.
Is this gonna be on the test?
How have parents changed in your years as a teacher?
HUGE increase in single parents! That has made dealing with home issues harder. The parent has one less person to support them in parenting and that has made dealing with parents harder.
Parents are much younger as well.
Also cases where parents are simply leaving their children and having there grandparents raise them.
That’s sad to hear, do you work at a school where most kids are socio-economically disadvantaged?
I have worked at many schools and have went around subbing.
Have any of your students come back to visit you decades later? What did they say to you?
“Ms Lee61 I had to come see you!” and they smile and tell you where they have been mostly just reminiscing. Telling me how they like me teaching and asking if I still teach.
I love it! And it brings in a whole new perspective on how they have changed.
How do you think teachers have evolved/changed over the years you’ve been working?
More concern about test than teaching.
What do you think of the common core?
I think it needs to be refined in someway. It would be great if it was implemented in the correct way.
Standards are a bit too high! Students who have hardly developed their motor skills are expected to learn how to read and write.
Do you have a favorite student? What do you consider your greatest success?
I have had many students over the years and in every classroom there is a favorite.
I think it’s best to tell you what type of student I like.
Not necessarily the best behaved student, but it’s the one that want’s to change the most!
I had a student named Rosie. Rosie always had an “I don’t care” attitude. It was through continuous encouragement and positive belief in her that she was able to get on the honor role.
Everyday I listened to her and told her “It’s better to try than to quit”.
What do you plan to do during your retirement?
I want to go into investing and my family owns a farm!
Is there any student now famous and who?
I have had several students who have been murdered. But I don’t know if anyone became famous.
Could you give a few examples of how things were handled 30 years ago vs. now? Also, do you think it’s a better or worse way for each?
30 years ago you really didn’t have many behavior problems. You simply didn’t have as many problems that you have today.
If a student was behaving badly all you need to do is say “stop” and that was it. If you really wanted to elevate it a call home was enough. A teacher could leave her classroom and all the students would still be sitting down. You could even tell a student to watch the class!
Today we have many systems
1 you have to have a record of what that student has done ( warnings ect) 2 Then you have to meet with parents or the principal 3 Then you have to meet with a core team to give you solutions on how to handle that child.
Then it becomes your fault that you have students that misbehave.
Who is one student you will never forget?
The two students who befriended my son! My family befriended their family.
I will never forget them.
How has the curriculum changed since you started? Do you think it is better or worse now?
It’s better! Technology has made the world a much smaller place. Students are able to get more one on one access to resources.
The downside is that students don’t have time to sit down and just think. They always want faster results.
In all your years, how many teachers have you seen get fired? What were some of the reasons?
I remember a teacher who would show up to school intoxicated!
The last straw was when she passed out in the classroom.
You are an example for every woman! How do you feel about that? being a teacher for 30+ years?
Fantastic! I like I have contributed to the education of the future.
I guess you can say satisfied.
What is the most hilarious thing you’ve ever seen or heard?
Listening to kids random conversations is always funny!
I remember once on a standardized test, a student raised his hand. So I came over and this is what he told me. “I’m a very smart student, and I need to tell you something” I asked him what he wanted to tell me.
“All of these answers are wrong, so I cannot do this test”.
He then proceeded to write in his own answers.
I’m a volunteer spanish “teacher” at a weekends school. It’s not exactly a school, but a place for bilingual kids to keep using Spanish and learning it in a more relaxed way. I don’t have any teaching formation and sometimes have a hard time making them pay attention or behave. They are great kids but 15 minutes into the class and all they want to do is play, show me stuff, shout and jump around. (I teach 7 and 8 years olds). Any tips or thoughts?
- First, See if you can find a older organized instructor that doesn’t have a problem.
- Have an agenda and stick to it! Don’t just show up, make sure you are prepared!
- How many students are boys, how many students are girls.Boys are more physical, girls are more language oriented.
Is it difficult to juggle being a parent and a teacher in today’s times? Or was it so 15-20 years ago?
Teaching in general has become more stressing! Standardized testing has put a ton of stress on teachers.
Why elementary and not some other level?
Honestly I kinda fell into teaching.
I wanted to be a social worker it was at the end of my sophomore year and I had to declare a major. The professor told me “if nothing else works you can always teach”.
At the time teaching was less demanding.
If you were to look back at kids 30 years ago, and now, what are 5 things that are drastically different?
- Technology!: The ease of access to the entire wealth of human knowledge and the speed of with you get it has made things much easier. The downside is that spelling has taken a downfall.
- Medication: Some students need it, most of them don’t. The ones that do however benefit from it greatly!
- Hyperactivity: Students are much more hyperactive then they were in my time. Recess is also shorter. It used to be an hour and a half, now it’s just 30 minuets.
- Absentee Parents: Children out of wedlock and single parents have increased dramatically.
- Acceptance: Homosexuality is better accepted now, which is a good thing!
Was there ever a moment like in the movies where she managed to make some kid see the light? Say that kid was a bully, or a bad person in general, but your mom thought it’s not who they actually are, and they turned out to be good afterall?
Yes, many times! That’s one of my moms most favorite part of teaching.
What does the see for the future of educating our youth?
Technology is being included more and more into the curriculum. It’s grate for students who have access to the resources, but not for the ones who don’t.
Have you ever thought about teaching high school?
If I could do it all again I would be a high school teacher. I would like to simply concentrate and become great a one particular subject than try to teach many subjects.
I would never teach middle school though.
Do you miss the smell of the mimeograph ink? I always smelled the purple ink as the papers were passed out.
Fun for the students to smell. Not fun to make.
Why didn’t you teach your child how to use commas?
We are on a time crunch and I want to answer as much a possible.
I will probably revise later.
What is the strangest experience you had as a teacher?
Another teacher getting drunk in the classroom.
Do teachers gossip about students? If so, what’s the worst thing you’ve heard a teacher say about their student(s)?
Yes of course! We are human.
One of the worst things I have heard a teacher say would be “they will never learn” or “sit them in the back of the room”.
I get the impression your mom isn’t computer literate. How can a teacher not be computer literate in the 21st century?
Hahaha I work the tech support for my high school so I deal with this first hand.
What you have to understand is that my mom was born in the 1950’s. The home computer didn’t even come out until the 1980s. My mom can certainly do basic task and whatnot, however here is the difference.
Using a computer comes less naturally to people her age. While we (I am assuming that you are a Millennial) have been born into the technological age that is now, she had to adapt to it.