April 15, 2013

Teachers Talk Back: David Edelman

David Edelman teaches at Bushwick Leaders High School for Academic Excellence in Brooklyn.

What inspired you to become an educator?

I have a deep and profound appreciation for teaching and learning. My mother was a teacher in the DOE for many years; my brother is a professor of law. I was raised in a family that prepared me for a life in education. Still, after I graduated, I went to work for a firm doing market research. I’d spend entire days where I never interacted with anyone, just a computer. That was not what I wanted to do with my life. I joined AmeriCorps and traveled across the country working with different education non-profits. It was the most amazing experience of my life. I finally felt like the work I was doing was relevant and important, and my colleagues were some of the most amazing people I’d ever met. I knew then that education was my calling and that it was what I’d spend the rest of my life dedicated to.

What does it take to be a great teacher?

Teaching is such a challenging profession because it asks so much of every individual teacher. There are many different paths to becoming a great education professional but I really believe that all great teacher need to inspire their students. You have to be inquisitive and have a life long love of learning. You have to be reflective and be capable of self-criticism. You have to be exciting, always looking for new life experiences. Finally, you have to be able to pass those passions along to your students.

Teaching in NYC is hard. What keeps you going?

My colleagues. Working with intelligent, motivated and creative people makes me excited to come to work everyday. Watching your staff turn over can be so hard. Losing people you respect and have helped build such a positive environment. Being surrounded by intelligent, talented, is what keeps me going.

Why is it important that teachers get involved in what's happening outside of their classrooms?

It’s so important for teachers to have a role in work that has effective and measurable results. It’s motivating to be able to have conversations with educators who know your experience and can relate to your highs and lows. Those are the people who should be leading reform, because teachers know best. Teachers experience the reforms on the micro level. Teachers see how changes play out in the classroom. E4E wants teachers involved in all aspects of reform because teachers know best. Teachers know what works and what does not work. It is only through the voices of educators that we will be able to create the changes we need in education.