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No Safety Net

Can teaching really be a "fallback" career, as many people who’ve lost jobs in the private sector are hoping? What separates the good teachers from the not-so-good? The New York Times blog, Room for Debate, has gathered several worthy opinions on the subject from ed professionals. Here’s a sampling:

Patrick Welsh, English teacher at T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, Va., and education writer: "The notion that anyone can teach is pure myth. No matter how much one may know or how altruistic one may be, some people are just temperamentally unsuited to teach and are toxic for kids. The problem is that it is difficult to identify those types."

Kenneth J. Bernstein, social studies teacher at Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Greenbelt, Md., and late career switcher: "The most important thing I do, and the hardest, is getting to know the students, and building on those relationships. The pedagogical process of matching one’s instruction to the students is easy."

Pam Grossman, professor of education at Stanford University: "Much of the teaching we do in everyday life, as parents or employers, involves telling or tutoring. As parents, we help children with math homework, test them on their vocabulary words, answer their questions. But teaching is much more than telling, and teachers have to know more than right answers."

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