The teaching profession is eroding day by day by day… Students are telling me that their families are encouraging them to change their majors to business or public health. Teachers have expressed their desire to get out of teaching. Today I read a blog by a teacher in Missouri who warned students against becoming teachers. I could go on and on, but I won’t. Instead I’d like to talk about some answers to the problem at hand.
Teaching is a profession, it requires preparatory education and ongoing training, there’s a career path, there are standards. It’s a profession! Not just any schmuck can be a good teacher. Now, having said that, it’s also a job for which fair treatment and compensation must be afforded for the hard work completed. Finally, teaching is also a “calling.” It is at this point we get into a little trouble because it can go positive and it can go negative.
People who feel that teaching is their way to give back to the world will put up with a lot of crap in order to do it. They want to make the profession and the world a better place and consider themselves integral to the evolutionary process. That’s a good thing, but it’s also used as an excuse to keep wages low and to remove tenure. Oh how many times I’ve heard politicians and administrators say that only people who really want to be teachers should be in the classroom and that if they start giving more pay to teachers people will treat it like any other job. What?! Just because we love teaching and wouldn’t do anything else, doesn’t give society the right to pay us poorly and deny us quality benefits.
The time is now to take back our profession! We need to join and be active in our professional organizations like the NEA and NAEYC. We need to dress, speak and act professional when engaging with our students, families, colleagues and community. We need to stop whining and complaining about testing degrading our profession and get out there and do something about it. We need to show the good we do, instead of allowing the media to only focus on the bad. So, tell people when you do great things in your classroom! We need to take every opportunity to support one another while also mentoring the next developing generation of teachers so they can continue the fight instead of warning them off.
We can do this by working together, communicating with one another, and getting involved. Let’s do this!