Saturday, February 25, 2012

Teachers are not (yet) professionals, II

Trust me, I get why we need unions. 
The NEA might want to remember that they need us even more than we need it.

Here's the first one in this series.

I have heard this refrain too many times in my second profession:

"We're professionals, we deserve more respect!"

There will always be those outside any exclusive profession that will try to knock it down a peg or two. Given that billionaires and governors have taken up the schtick, I understand the frustration. This is my house, too.

If we're going to become professionals, and we're not there yet, we're going to need to learn how to act more professional. Publicly complaining about lack of respect won't garner us any.

Here are some questions I think are worth asking among ourselves. Do not worry about what Arne, or Eli, or Billy, or any of the dozens of edu-shucksters out there hustling for a piece of the public pie.
If teachers associations were glued together as guilds, bound to advancing competency of our craft, as opposed to unions, bound to represent the interests of teachers, who in your building would be invited to join?

If "research-based best practices" was used honestly, and we, as professionals, took the time to assess the research behind these practices, how many of us would still cling to Marzano's miracle numbers?
If teachers took the time to read the research on cognition, who among us would continue to blather base our methodology on  Gardner's "theory" of multiple intelligences?
I don't mind getting my ass kicked by a fellow teacher who strives to improve her craft as I strive to improve mine--I came from a field where this was not only encouraged, but formalized in regular morbidity and mortality (M&M) conferences. The profession's standards matter more than the feelings of those licensed to uphold those standards. If your school adopted regular M&M conferences, what would be discussed? Which of your disasters deserves this kind off scrutiny?

If teachers had a professional organization of their own responsible for licensure, what kind of missteps would lead to suspension of your license?

I love what I do, and teaching matters more to me than it does to most folks--that's as it should be. I know more about cognitive science than most people, also as it should be. Every teacher should be able to say the same.

At least if you want a place in our guild.


Louise Maine said...

Thank you for this. Not that I may yet be a professional as I do bemoan the lack of respect (in my corner of the world, we are absolutely hated here.) We went one to one. I know you hate computers, but I use it to get kids to think, connect information, record data, tell me what they know, yadda, yadda...I am an environmentalist so it suits me as a medium. But when our school went one to one and we had an opportunity to rethink what we do and elevate it, most chose not to. The lack of conversation appalls me as does the stupid fixes we seem to be told to do. I am stuck teaching kids things they do not need to know yet (organic molecules and intricacies of cellular respiration anyone?) Meanwhile, when I try to connect that information with their bodies and the food they eat and the mess that we have made of so much in this world, they really do not know very much. In the 23 years that I have been teaching, I can say that this is more of a farce than ever. Anyway, I have enjoyed your posts as I think and believe much like you... Some professionalism would be great...

doyle said...

Dear Louise,

Always great to hear from you!

I don't hate computers--I even have a 1:1 classroom via a grant I wrote.

What I hate is folks thrusting the tool at me without considering the goals they want to attain.

I hate giving up things that matter so we can pretend our kids grasp the intricacies of biochemistry.

I hate the emphasis on efficiency.

(Actually, I don;t hate much of anything these days--I blame the waning testosterone and a better sense of history as I get older.)

Problem is I am now working under s system being taken over (as it should be) by younger folk, many who, alas, do not know what they want, or who are afraid to ask for what they want.

And that is very, very sad.