Exactly What Does it Take?

What does it take to be an effective teacher? I have been asking that since I attended a teacher of the year lunch in November. I watched as businesses in my state recognized quality teachers. I was very honored to be in their company. Upon leaving that lunch, I thought about what these other teachers had that I did not. I read through the pamphlets and biographies of each candidate. I also read through the requirements of what it took to be a candidate. Each candidate had either a Master’s Degree or a Doctorate. The requirements also stated that a candidate was evaluated on their level of education. This proves to me that continued education is valued to be an effective teacher.

However, why would any teacher go on to get a Master’s Degree let alone a Doctorate? What motivation is there for teachers to pursue higher education? I checked with my district and it is only a $2,000 a year jump for me. With all of the grading, report cards, planning and everything else a teacher has to do, there’s not much time to pursue any other achievements. Plus, I already have a part time job to help cover the bills so my time is very full and valuable. I know money is not the answer to everything but what is it that motivates some teachers to pursue higher education degrees? If it’s a factor in teacher effectiveness, why aren’t there more incentives  and less obstacles for teachers to obtain Master’s Degrees?


Donnie Dicus

Donnie Dicus

Tucson, Arizona

My name is Donnie Dicus and I have been teaching in Arizona for 12 years. I came to Arizona from Southern Illinois to attend the University of Arizona in Tucson. I graduated in 2003 and began teaching second grade. I taught second grade in Tucson for 8 years before moving to Phoenix. I now teach third grade. I achieved National Board Certification in 2012 and I received my Master’s Degree from Grand Canyon University in 2015. I achieved a National Board Certificate in Middle Childhood Generalist in 2012. I’ve been teaching mainstream and SEI 3rd grade classrooms in the Cartwright School District in Phoenix since 2013. I taught 2nd grade and was a math interventionist in Tucson in the Amphitheater School District. I’ve been a technology coach and have helped teachers apply technology to improve instruction. I facilitate coaching cohorts for teachers going through the National Board process and organize peer groups at my site to pair new teachers with experienced teachers. In 2010 I was nominated as a Rodel Semi-Finalist for Exemplary teaching in 2010 and featured as a Teacher Leader in February 2016 by the Arizona K12 Center.
I have class pictures of every single student I have taught behind my desk on my wall. After 12 years, that is approximately 350 students. My students know that this is my Wall of Accomplishments. I am so proud of the difference I made in their lives. I became a teacher to make a difference and I strive to do so every day.

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