All These Certified Teachers

I take my job very seriously. I have since the day I became a certified teacher. I think a teacher plays an important role in community, particularly in underserved ones. But I didn’t go to university with the hopes of becoming a teacher. I went to university because I got a football scholarship and thought I could make it to the NFL. When I realized the professional athlete route was a wrap, I started to think about “careers”. Teaching was my back up plan. I settled on that path during my senior year of university. I then graduated, applied to a bunch of teacher’s colleges and subsequently paid around six grand to the lucky institution that accepted me.

In teacher’s college we read articles about teaching, participated in role play scenarios about hypothetical classroom situations and listened to actual teachers who would come in from time to time and talk about their job. I even remember one time when we made funny looking head ornaments to describe our “learning styles” and then walked around the classroom talking to other teacher candidates that had the same learning style. And then we were asked to walk around and talk to folks who had different learning styles. And then we were asked to walk around once more and talk to one or two people that we hadn’t talked to yet. Then we all sat down and were asked to share our reflections on the experience, one by one. That activity covered a day’s worth of teacher’s college. I earned my Bachelor of Education and was a certified teacher a few months later.

I’ve spent nearly a decade employed as a full-time teacher moving from school to school, teaching a range of subjects to students in a range of grades. In the last decade, I’ve realized a few issues or challenges, or whatever politically correct terms I’m supposed to use instead of saying fucked-up-problems, that school has. There are a lot, but the most fucked up one is the actual teachers.

I probably would have gone to university anyway, but I got to university because I wanted to make it to the NFL (by the way, collegiate sports and potential professions in professional athletics is absurdly oxymoronic, but that’s a topic for another time). Because I was able to have a portion of my tuition paid for throughout the majority of my university career, and also because there was still room in my house and my parents weren’t assholes so they didn’t make me pay rent while I was chasing a dream, I was able to pay the six thousand dollars to go to teacher’s college. Thinking about it now, my ability to almost effortlessly get to the point of getting accepted into teacher’s college, and being able to pay for it while simultaneously being able to survive, was also due to the fact that I had two parents who were married and lived in a house. I was able to go role play hypothetical classroom scenarios from September to May and drive to a side job after a day of strenuous classroom engagement due to multiple financial and social factors that I half created and was half born into. And those reasons right there, my friends, is precisely why education has been churning in turmoil for a long ass time.

The good thing is that we (well, not you and me, but you know, Them Peoples) can fix it. Or at least fix this one problem. The fact that we have a crisis within public education does not mean that we should ramp up teacher credentialing, it means that we should lower it. Yes, that is right, we need to make it easier for people to become teachers instead of making it harder. We have too many people who became teachers because it was their back up plan and because they could afford to spend the time and money going through the process of teacher accreditation. In the meantime, there are folks that would make amazing teachers that couldn’t afford to become one due to time or money or the understanding that their time and money just wasn’t feasible. This is a long winded blog to simply say that education would be “solved” or perfect, but it would be better if we had better teachers. And the only way we can or will get better teachers is if we make becoming a teacher easier. What I think we could do from there requires around 400 more words and I know you gotta get back to lesson planning and insta story watching. So, I’ll leave you with this: we must become more open in the recruitment of teachers because, well because, teacher’s college robbed me of six racks.

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Matthew R. Morris

Educator, Speaker, Writer

Matthew R. Morris is a writer, speaker, and elementary educator in Toronto. He has an M.A. in Social Justice Education from OISE at the University of Toronto and is the author of the forthcoming book, Black Boys Like Me. 

Matthew R. Morris

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