Where do we go from here?

As a veteran teacher I have been thinking non-stop about the next step in education lately. I pursed a career in teaching because I love working with young minds and molding the future. I enjoy the challenges of working with a new crop of minds to motivate each year. I now feel pressures like no other. I feel disrespect daily from the media, community and students. When I talk to colleagues I hear overwhelming concerns about where our profession is heading. Stress levels seem to mimic the ones I saw in my father, a cardiologist, when I was a child. I chose the teaching profession over being a doctor because I wanted to have time to spend with my family. My father never had that time. However now I feel like I am losing my family time to my other kids. The 125 or so students who I have at school. I need to plan more than ever before to make sure I reach all of them. It seems society forgets that teachers are parents too.

As I read about different “Ed Reforms” I grow concerned. Most ideas come from people who have not spent much time in the classroom working with students. The ideas come from business, think tanks, and short-term teachers who climbed up a ladder and never looked back at classrooms. These ideas do not have research or proven methods behind them. Teachers will have to burden the costs of implementing them. Whether it be a financial cost, time cost or professional cost. Race to the top has created ranking systems that have no merit in a work place where there are too many variables for student achievement. A teacher could be ranked highly effective in one school but if they were moved to a different school they would be ranked ineffective.

The United States education system needs to change for sure but not the way we are doing it now. Right now we seem to be looking for a silver bullet that fixes everything at once. We want to blame “bad” teachers and “praise” great school programs. (Read blame union teachers/praise charter schools if you will). If we continue down this road, the winners will be businesses that profit off of the change, the losers will be the rest of American Society.

There is a model that seems to work. Look no further than the medical professions for assistance. Doctors train as interns for 2,4 and sometimes 6 years. Studying under the TOP leaders in their profession. Their teachers actually show, hands on how to perform in the field. Medical students start by watching the best work , assist and then have a hand at showing what they learned with the best watching on. This is completely different from how we train out teachers. We throw them in a student teacher placement with who ever will take them, and then tell them we will come see them teacher every few weeks. No wonder some teachers are bad, they received bad training, blame the school of education they attended.

If a professor is teaching college students how to teach, they need to be active in a school teaching. Not all day but a class or two. If someone is going to be recognized as an expert in the field of education, they need to be actively teaching in the field. We can’t have experts observe and report out, they need to do, so students can see them practice what they are preaching. I know teachers work hard to become the best in their field so they can consult. Is it best for students to have the best teachers sitting on the sidelines? Would we want a surgeon who heard an expert speak one day? or the surgeon who watched, assisted and was critiqued by the best?

Let’s fix education!! But let’s make sure we do it right by listening to the teachers and giving them what they need.