Faculty share their inspiring storiesJon Bickelhaupt
Anybody who knows Paula Groves Price is familiar with the way she throws her head back when she laughs. Which is often. The associate professor explains that her family is the source of her humor–and her resilience–in a chapter of Trajectories: The Social and Educational Mobility of Education Scholars from Poor and Working Class Backgrounds. Paula grew up in San Diego, where she attended very different schools. Clinical Associate Professor Leslie Hall grew up on a Washington farm where money was always in short supply, and dreamed of going to law school. She also writes about her childhood, as well as her career decisions, in Trajectories.
In “Sometimes You Gotta Live Your Life on a Bridge,” Paula explains that being a jokester helped her stay afloat as a multicultural child in a sea of white students: “They may have had extensive knowledge of proper forks … and ballroom dancing techniques, but I knew how to read and write graffiti, and how to maximize multiple meals from a single block of cheese. I entered the 6th grade feeling lost and alone, and I exited as the elected class clown.”
Leslie was the only child in her family to earn a college degree, after which she moved to the Seattle area. She returned to the Yakima Valley to teach the children of farm workers because that’s where she could find a job. She planned to stay a couple of years before moving back to suburbia. But her instincts intervened. In a school that mandated English-only instruction, she insisted on giving bilingual lessons to help her kindergarten students. The principal told her she could be fired. In her chapter “Changing Fields: The Growth of a Subversive Educator,” Leslie writes: “I continued to alternate between English and Spanish. That wasn’t the last time insubordination and termination were mentioned, either. My passion for social justice had finally overcome my desire for the ‘good life’ of the suburbs. I decided to stay and work with those wonderful children.”
What keeps teachers teaching?
Two out of five of America’s 4 million K-12 teachers appear disheartened and disappointed about their jobs, while others express a variety of reasons for contentment with teaching and their current school environments, new research shows. It’s a subject that Jason Margolis explored in his 2008 article “What Will Keep Today’s Teachers Teaching? Looking for a Hook as a New Career Cycle Emerges.” Editors at Teachers College Record felt the piece was so relevant that they’re published on the TCR Web site, where it can be read free of charge this week.
Jason’s paper concludes with three potential areas of exploration for both educational practice and research concerned with keeping “good teachers” teaching: merit pay, differentiated jobs, and university-school partnerships.