Archive for March, 2011

The Professional Teacher

My first blog! How exciting. This plunge into the very public realm of communication is the culmination of a great deal of apprehension, dragging of feet and finally, the realisation that I have a voice and need to have it heard.

It has been depressing seeing the good name of the teaching profession dragged through the mud through recent press releases. In the New York Times article “Teachers Wonder, Why the Scorn?” the lack of understanding amongst those outside the profession whether they be parents, concerned citizens or political and administrative individuals, is rife. When teachers are treated as commodities that can be sacked and rehired as and when it is politically expedient, it is clearly evident that the big picture of what education is all about hasn’t hit home. Back home, the opinion piece in The Australian,” My School Mute on Bad Teachers”  shares Christopher Bantick’s opinion that bad teachers should not be tolerated but I question the suggestion that a teachers worth should be measured by the performance in high stakes tests when the child is not a product of a single teacher’s  or school’s influence.

If teachers are, as the opinions in these articles imply, bad teachers who have a poor “capacity to teach”,  then yes, we must clear them from the fold of the profession. If teachers  arrive at work and enter a classroom looking on themselves simply as “babysitters” then yes, they don’t deserve  anyones respect let alone the “minimum wage”. But how many teachers do actually fall within these numbers? As many as other bad professionals – be they doctors, artists, politicians – I am sure.

Which brings me to the point of this blog. I wonder – what exactly is a professional? A teaching professional? Because I do believe all of us teachers deserve to be acknowledged and treated as professionals. I invite anyone out there who considers themselve a professional – in whatever profession – to share their thoughts. 

When we acknowledge what a professional is, we need to also consider how we “grow” a professional. Because I am of the firm belief that a qualification from a university that states you can teach, or practice as a doctor etc  does not make you a professional. Yes there are teachers out there whom none of us would want teaching our own kids – but what systems are or should be in place to “grow” that professional?