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A Most Challenging Profession
By Dr. Stan Friedland

What is teaching like today? Who should do it? And who shouldn't? This Education World series features essays on teaching by teachers as they answer the question, "If you had it to do all over again, would you still become a teacher?"

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My career in teaching spans more than fifty years; I've been a teacher at all grade levels, a guidance counselor, and a high school principal. During my latter stint, I taught a course each year to keep my teaching skills as sharp as possible -- and observed and evaluated hundreds of teaching lessons. Would I do it again? In a heartbeat!

Teaching is a most challenging and exciting activity. The challenge, of course, is in the imposing variables that each teacher encounters daily.

To take a class of some 25-30 varied individuals through a lesson with defined objectives and move them toward those objectives, competently and positively, is indeed a real challenge.

To build up a meaningful relationship with as many of your students as possible, so as to make a real contribution to their lives is a formidable but most worthy challenge.

To guide, monitor and even shape the growth of your students is a major challenge.

Put all those together and you can see why teaching is one of the most important professions in the world.

The potential outcomes of effective teaching, of course, also are formidable. To know that you have helped your students grow in intellect and self-esteem is a reward second to none.

Yes, there are downsides -- many of them -- that can and do diminish motivation and enthusiasm for many teachers. But there is no profession that doesn't have its downside, and these are not insurmountable. When an educator becomes seasoned enough, realistic enough, and strong enough to overcome them and produce effective teaching on a daily, sustained basis, then deep down, an inner glow develops that tells you how good it is to be a teacher and a damn good one!

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Dr. Stan Friedland

Dr. Stan Friedland has taught at every level, from elementary school through graduate school, and regards effective teaching as the optimal achievement in any educational career. He was an award-winning guidance counselor; an award-winning high school principal, and was voted teacher of the year by several graduate school student bodies. He has written some twenty educational articles, is working on his third book, and has hosted an educational television program, entitled, "Inside Education" in his local area for eight years. President of his own educational consulting firm, Dr. Friedland has given hundreds of workshops around the country and abroad on varied educational topics. His doctoral degree in Educational Administration is from Columbia University.

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08/20/2005