Are unruly students the main reason for teacher turnover?

Discussing ideas

I love my unruly students. They are not sheep. Did they make me change my teaching strategies, inquiry methods, lesson plans, curricular focus, soft skill mentoring, student-teacher relationships, parental involvement, laboratory practicum (… and the list goes on)?

YES. They were the ones that made me a better teacher. They may not of known what they wanted (although some did) but they knew what they did NOT want.

When will we stop searching for elusive answers from data-mined scores taken at one point under specific circumstances and go to the source … the students?

Unruly students are unruly because they are missing something … guidance, focus, connections, positive adult role models, recognition, metacognition, “sense of belonging” … love.


Cute funny group portrait of school kids

I believe any teacher can help even the most difficult student through time, communication, mutual respect, and personal investment. The problem is that these qualities are not tested, scored, assessed, and/or documented. So many try to move on without meeting the basic needs of the student. It’s off to the next test.

I am not going to “silver line” my pre-service education. I was taught the idyllic basics, in a controlled environment, under hand-chosen mentors but then reality hit me like a ton of bricks from the first day of my first position.

To be honest, if they had shown me what the teaching profession was actually going to entail, I probably would not have continued. I believe it is an integral part of the duties of pre-service education personnel to prepare, support, and assist pre-service teachers acquire a “clear” concept of what classrooms may be like AND how to successfully travel these waters.

The problem with the high teacher turnover goes back to what many have said (and will say) … support, or lack thereof … from several venues (parental, administrative, community, political, etc.).


I am “poor” in some aspects but also “good” and “proficient” in many others. What would happen if I was assessed on my uber-weaknesses, and never my talents? My dislikes instead of my interests? My in differences instead of my passions? I would be a failure.

Standardizing differentiation is not testable. When we ask what we really want and what we ultimately hope for our students, I would bet it’s not a percentile rank. At least, I would hope not. Yet, I have been wrong before, and maybe that’s the ultimate problem. There is no room for failure.

The Meaning of Liberal Education


Liberal Education Aids Learners to Grow to be a More Conscientious, Dedicated and Fulfilled Individual!

Liberal education is the learning within, and for, a community. The collegiate institution’s task is to enlarge this community to include all global citizens. I believe liberal education can best be defined as nourishment of the soul. The spiritual directive progresses beyond prescribed coursework, historical underpinnings and institutional directives.

Education of this calibre scaffolds learning from seemingly separate, distinct fields of study to a meaningful, meta-cognitive core. The process involves interrelating art with business, pin balling music from math and coalescing sciences with language. Personal development assists the learner with finding their personal meaning as well as their respective place, niche, and responsibility in society.

My first experience with liberal education was when I attended Wartburg College as an undergraduate. Previously, I learned objectives, received high scores and marks, and was able to regurgitate information with relative ease. The problem was that these actions were no longer enough at such an academic institution. I had to figure out where I fit into this picture. There was no rubric, no checklist, and no final commemorating completion. This format drove me crazy. I just wanted to be told that I had succeeded getting what I needed so I could move on to life. Hence, there lies the problem. Liberal education is not an itinerary and is never complete. After teaching in public high schools for nearly two decades, I found that I called upon my own liberal education daily, if not hourly, to help my students make sense of their lives. I was employed to teach the sciences and that’s what I did but life is so much more than any one singular subject. Classroom discussions pole-vaulted from physical representations of light waves to the beauty of art, to the understanding of the brain’s perceptions, and to the geometrical quantification of interference within a single class period.

Students came to class because they had a voice, learned about themselves and directed their own education. I had a great career as a secondary educator, not specifically because of the accolades, but because of my students.

I found I loved the Socratic method of learning and my students relished the opportunity to actively engage in a safe, constructive, interactive environment. The process is what led me back to a liberal arts institution. I have specific training in the natural and social sciences but a love for all learning. I feel like I can make, and have made, a positive difference. I yearn to assist young learners in finding, and understanding, their calling. The liberal education process shows us how to grow as individuals and develop servant leadership. I am still growing and always will be.



Being a product and now at par of a liberal education system helps me find worth in my own life. I help to develop, truly develop, engaged community participants. I believe my experiences and understandings assist in exemplifying that our futures are more than genetics, circumstances, or honing a peg for a hole.

Putting a liberal education into words is like trying to describe the feeling of beautiful dawn.

You know what it is, what it isn’t and how it makes you feel but the dissected, and described, aggregate parts do not or cannot, equal the whole. The beauty is in the process not the product. Sciences are an intimate part of the arts and it’s also vice versa. Liberal education allows the learner to make these connections and grow to be a more conscientious, dedicated and fulfilled individual. Of course, liberal education will help the learner attain a good life but more importantly it aids in the realization that life is good.