The best day of my life already happened, way back in sixth grade.
From the moment I discovered that Mrs. Casey’s sixth grade language arts class was all about Ancient Greece and Medieval Europe, nothing could have been more important to the future of my young existence than these topics. Our giant illustrated textbooks were D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths and another big book called Knights (which I can’t seem to find online). These beloved texts were our reference manuals, but Mrs. Casey was our guide, our captain.
Mrs. Casey famously organized two major group competitions during sixth grade: the Greek Olympics at the end of autumn and the Medieval Games in late spring. Everyone in the class picked a character out of a hat that they represented in each competition.
Since the fourth grade, I had been dead-set on being Friar Tuck in the Medieval Games. To this day, I’m not entirely sure why. Luckily, when I pulled Uther Pendragon (King Arthur’s father) from the hat, I was able to secretly trade with my friend Jeff, who liked that my original character seemed to be named after a dragon.
On the long awaited day of the Medieval Games, everyone in the class came to school dressed as their character, where the king and queen and their retinue arranged themselves for a day of pageantry and games at the royal court parking lot. Mrs. Casey arranged for actual medieval jousting games performed by local medieval enthusiasts. I repeat, there were knights and horses and jousting matches in our school parking lot, and I was dressed as a monk. Friar Tuck also provided a stirring harmonica accompaniment to Sir Gawain’s accordion performance during the day, to largely mixed reviews. Finally, that evening, we boarded a yellow school bus and traveled to a magical place called Medieval Times.
I’m not ashamed — this was the best day of my life. And it’s all because Mrs. Casey wanted to bring our classroom to life.
Teachers are hugely influential figures. But their contributions to society aren’t always recognized as fully as they should be. That’s why I’m happy to be supporting World Teachers’ Day.
To mark it, here’s a list of five things you may not know about teachers.
1. The average teacher spends 786 hours a year in a classroom with their students. Add in the time they spend planning, marking, and working on their skills and it’s no surprise that 80% of teachers we surveyed admit to working more than 10 hours a day. The common perception of teachers doing 8.30-3.30 then clocking off is wildly off-base.
2. Twenty percent of a teacher’s time is spent preparing for lessons. While films like The History Boys and Dead Poet’s Society make it look easy for teachers to get up and orate extemporaneously, in reality an incredible amount of time goes into preparing each lesson and making it relevant to specific students.
3. It’s really not about the money. A survey by the Gates Foundation revealed that money isn’t in teachers’ top 10 reasons for staying in the profession. Teachers are far more motivated by altruistic factors like greater family involvement in education or a supportive leadership team.
4. Far from being resistant to the use of technology in the classroom, teachers are at the forefront of change. Research by PBS Learning showed that 69 percent of teachers say that ed tech helps them do more for their students than ever before. Seventy-five percent of teachers want to see more technology used in the classroom.
5. One of the biggest challenges teachers face is finding enough time in the day to tailor lessons and provide personalized feedback. Thirty-seven percent of teachers identified the growing diversity of student needs as a major challenge. Reassuringly, teacher also believe that solutions are at hand — with 73% of those asked by PBS asserting that technology helps them respond to a variety of learning needs.
Want to know more about how teachers view their profession? Check out Knewton’s infographic below.
Created by Knewton
Source: Knewton Teacher survey, unless otherwise indicated