I was reading some blogs on New Year’s Eve and came across this video on The Future of Teaching website. You might ask, “why are you reading blogs on New Year’s Eve?” Not a very exciting thing to do! Well, true but it is a sunny, warm day in Atlanta and I have been out most of the morning so I was quietly passing time this afternoon.
Anyway, take a look at the video and try your hand at the American Teacher Quiz. I knew the answer to most questions probably because I read about this stuff all the time. See how you perform on this informal quiz?
After watching the video, I found it interesting to reflect on the profession to which I have devoted nearly 33 years of my life. The statistics in the video paint a disappointing picture of what it means to be a good teacher. To think that our salaries have only increased by $150 annually over the past 40 years (adjusted for inflation) is absolutely horrible. To a large extent, the teaching profession is not valued in our society. But then we (teachers) have not done much to change the way our profession is viewed. Imagine a college educated person being able to practice medicine after receiving an emergency waiver from his or her local governing agency. It wouldn’t happen. And yet, someone can become a teacher in less than 5-6 hours in some districts or states. Unbelievable!
While Teach for America has added some value to our society, it has done little to advance the teaching profession since its inception. The summer before their teaching assignment begins, these young, college graduates take an intensive five-week teacher preparation course. From this experience they are deemed “ready to be a teacher.” All of them are given the keys to their own classroom, usually in a failing or challenged urban school setting and expected to be successful. No doubt some of them are successful, but most are not and leave the profession within 2-5 years. Amazing! Can you imagine us running our medical, engineering or legal education system this way? What kind of doctors, engineers or lawyers would we have?
Taking this quiz should be a wake up call to our profession. We must professionalize the teaching profession. If not, we will do little to overcome the negative images that our society has of our profession. Look at the MetLife Surveys of the American Teacher. These surveys paint an interesting picture of what we, and our society, think about our profession. While much of it is positive, there are significant challenges that must be overcome.