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Teachers share thoughts on classroom dynamics
Discipline, technology biggest factors
Discipline and technology in the classroom have changed over the years, according to some current and retired teachers.
“When I started, kids could be spanked. You can’t do that now,” said Bob Otto, a 33-year Language Arts teacher at Pioneer Middle School.
Retired band instructor Reynald Rutledge explained that during his 38-year career at various schools, discipline was a top priority.
“You have to be on them immediately and be stern. You will always have a few kids that will challenge you, but for the most part they come around,” said Rutledge who added that one year he had to drop a student from band because his behavior would not improve. According to Rutledge, the boy’s mother was not happy. Toward the end of his career he found that some of the kids were out of control.
“A lot of times parental supervision is lacking and they think they can do what they want,” stated Rutledge.
Phillip Brown, a former retired agricultural teacher who taught at Porterville High School for 25 years and is now the executive director for the Bakersfield Elementary Teachers Association, took a somewhat opposing view.
“Kids are as interested in education today as they were in the past,” said Brown, who added that the students must be engaged.
“They gotta be involved if they’re going to stay connected,” stated Brown.
Technology has also evolutionized the classroom.
When Otto first started all of the students used a pencil, paper and a novel. Now they use much more.
As the last few minutes of the CNN student news broadcast ended, pupils in Otto’s advanced eighth grade computer lab immediately went to a blog to answer questions This was just one of the many ways in which the classroom has changed.
“A lot of traditional work the students used to do on paper they now do on the keyboard,” said Otto. Technology has allowed the students to do more.
“What I’m delivering hasn’t changed, but how changes from year to year,” stated Otto, who pointed out that by using the different programs students can learn keyboarding skills, artistic skills and more. In Britt Percival’s class the same students learn interviewing skills by using a microphone and a green screen.
However, with the advancement of technology comes some challenges.
“The thing most kids struggle with learning is word processing. They’d much rather do drawing or movies,” said Percival a 29 year veteran who teaches a variety of computer, digital design and video production classes at Pioneer Middle School.
Pioneer Middle School Principal Isaac Nunez believes that the technology has helped the students.
“Technology is just a tool. Teachers are constantly developing ways to make students achieve better,” said Nunez.
In regards to student-teacher relationships, Brown pointed out that the role of teachers has not changed.
“They perform all sorts of duties way beyond classroom teachers. They pay out of pocket for pencils and Thanksgiving Turkeys,” said Brown.
Another thing that has not changed, when it comes to a child’s education, parents are the key.
“All of us have a responsibility, not just as parents, but as citizens, for giving our kids the best possible education,” said President Barack Obama in a 2011 education speech in Arlington, Va., according to a White House press release.
In Brown’s experience, he has seen parent’s attitudes as positive.
“Some parents today are very interested in their kids being successful, while others have no interest,” added Brown.
Rutledge remembers a vast difference in parental attitudes.
“Back in 1958, when you had a kid that had discipline problems and you had to call home they got in double trouble. Over the years that gradually changed,” he said.
Nunez countered that the parents at his school are pro education.
“Our parents are very supportive. They send kids here to learn. We are very fortunate,” he said.
For future teachers, Rutledge is adamant.
“Be darn sure you love your subject and that you’re willing to dedicate a lot of time to it.”