Would I Choose a Teaching Career, Again? Reflections From a Retired Teacher

by Jeff Fink

It seems to me that as you get older it is only natural to reflect on your life and the decisions you have made. Recently, I have been pondering whether or not I would have chosen a teaching career if given the chance to do it all over.

The answer is definitive. I truly loved being a teacher. I loved being surrounded by kids. I found the work interesting, challenging, rewarding, never boring, a way to show my creative side, and almost always fun. I believe they kept me young. So, I guess the answer would have to be a big YES!

However, if I were twenty-two years old today would I chose teaching as my career? I realize that the answer to this question is not as conclusive. In fact, the best I can say is I am not sure.

Although retired from teaching, I stay involved in the profession through ChildSense and as a professor in Hamline University’s education department. And although I am no longer “in the trenches,” I have a birds-eye view of today’s schools. When I look at teachers and administrators today I often see exhausted, unhappy people.

I believe the most significant reason for this is our country’s emphasis and use of standardized tests as a way to determine student progress and teacher and school effectiveness. The pressure to have kids perform on a standardized test has been a huge strain on educators today. For many, they are so obsessed with the “test” that they have forgotten how to teach and they have created an environment that is stale, boring and certainly doesn’t promote life-long learners.

Although I believe it is important to assess student learning and teacher effectiveness, I am certain that a standardized test only is a snap shot of a students learning. It doesn’t show how far the student has come nor does it show how motivated they are to continue learning.

They say the pendulum always swings in education. I hope the pendulum swings soon.  It is time that we found better and more creative ways to assess student learning and teacher effectiveness. I think when we do we will see the joy of teaching and learning return.


September 6, 2012. Uncategorized. 2 comments.