When I finished this post, it was not what I set out to write. I wanted to write a happy feel-good post, but somehow, I ended up on a soap box preaching on the town green. I tried to keep the spittle at a minimum, but you still might want to keep at a safe distance.
I went over to The Daily Post to get inspiration for a post, and found the writing prompt “Singular Sensation.”
If one experience or life change results from you writing your blog, what would you like it to be?
That was not a difficult question for me to answer. If I could wave my magic pen here on Socrates Underground and change something, I would turn the teaching profession into the Teaching Profession. I would elevate the perception of teachers in the United States from that of technical practitioner to that of professional education expert.
We are the experts.
I am more frustrated in my job this year than I ever have been before because I feel that I am not free to do my best for my students. I’m not free to develop the best lessons and work with my students in the ways that I know are best for them. I’m constrained by state legislation and testing mandates. My district has given our local teachers an amazing amount of input, but they can only do so much within the boundaries of the state legislation. Are you picking up on the Kafka-esque nature of what I’m saying: I want to teach better. My district wants to let me. My students want to succeed. Political agendas prevent it. Why are politicians making decisions about curriculum and pedagogy? It’s really simple: They do not believe that educators know more about how to educate students than they themselves do. They feel just as qualified to make decisions about how to educate students as educational professionals. They are wrong.
There’s a Catch:
If we want to be seen as professionals, we have to actually be professionals. We can’t say treat us like professionals first; then we’ll start acting like professionals. If we want to be recognized as experts in the field of education, we have to take the initiative. And I believe most of us already are. I teach with some amazing professionals who know their fields and who give their time to learning more about their subjects and the field of education. Unfortunately, these people do these things in addition to selling tickets at ballgames, filling out redundant reports, and baby sitting colleagues’ classes when substitute teachers can’t be found. But we all also know about the “teachers” who show movies more than they teach. We’ve heard about “teachers” who don’t know the answers without the teacher’s edition.
Maybe I even understand these disillusioned teachers. This year, some days, I’ve been tempted to say, “If you want so little from me, fine.” But that’s not who I am. I am a professional. In spite of ridiculous laws. In spite of duties that have nothing to do with teaching. In spite of exhausting schedules. And if we, as teachers want to be recognized as professionals, none of us have the luxury of checking out in front of our classes. Professionals police themselves. Each one of us must make sure that we are living up to the image we expect people to have of us. And anyone who isn’t willing to do that should go make some other field look bad.