Can you tell us about yourself?
"My name is Alvertha Whitaker. I am currently a 5th ELA teacher at Ryan Elementary School here in Baton Rouge, LA. I've been there for 1 year now. Before that I was working at the Juvenile Detention Center as a math teacher for about 6 years here in Baton Rouge, LA."
Why did you start a career in education?
"I started the career in education because I wanted another way to reach out to the community and the kids and make a difference in their lives."
If you could have any other job what would it be and why?
"If I could change the job that I am currently at as an educator, I would decide to be a counselor, a school counselor or a psychologist or something of that nature. Anything that involves helping people directly and being able to see a difference in the world and the people that live within it."
How are kids different now than 30 years ago?
"Kids are different now compared to the last 30 years because it's a new generation, its a new way of life. Children these days are not what we used to be when we were kids. When you know, we respected authority. We respected our elders. We knew that if we didn't do what we were supposed to do in school then we had consequences to suffer not only from our parents but from our neighbors and everyone else. Well these days kids are not as focused on the school and the curriculum and the teachers that teach in the classroom because they don't respect what we do, who we are, or anything else for that matter."
How is teaching different now than 30 years ago?
"Teaching is different today because back 30 years ago, teaching was all about teaching for you to learn. Whatever it took you to learn, that's what they did. Well today, we are teaching to the standards which is not a bad thing. It just kind of puts you in this box as to how you can teach and what you can teach without being told hey that's not the way it could be. The way of teaching today is not a bad thing but it sometimes is hard because when you are taught one way and you have to teach it another, sometimes it can be difficult for others."
What would you tell someone who wants to become a teacher?
"If someone was going into the education profession, I would tell them to be prepared and just know what you learn in the books is not what is will actually be like. I will recommend that they go out and do student teaching, do substitute, do anything that you can get a feel for what the reality of the teaching world is. I feel like a lot of people they think they know what it's going to be. I think it's great. It's a great profession. I just don't think it's for everybody. You have to have a passion for it and the knowledge to make a difference with the kids."
What is one thing you would change to help kids learn better?
"One thing I would change to help learn better is the actually curriculum. We do use Common Core in ways that does help. However, I feel, as I said earlier, teachers don't have that option to go above and beyond to kind of reach farther than what the curriculum says because in these days we are teaching to the test. I feel like that hinders kids in a lot of ways especially those who have a harder time learning and been able to comprehend what is being taught in the classroom. I would also implement longer small group because I feel as though because you have so much teaching time going on that you really don't have time to do one on one teaching at this time and I think that's something that needs to be implemented a little more into schools and the curriculum.