Lauralee is a staff writer for Justmeans in the Education category. Lauralee also works at a community college in the Community Programs Department. She is an expert in teaching and leadership. She believes in raising education's standards and rewarding those who make strides in the field. Her passions include empowering communities with educational practices and implementing proven practices....
Misunderstanding Teachers is a costly mistake in Education
I often write about a disconnect between the expectations of those who enter the teaching profession and the actual work day, pay, level of respect-and consequential lifestyle teachers lead. Recently, Lesley Chilcott, the producer of "Waiting for Superman" echoed my words. When asked, "Does teaching have a branding problem?" she responded: Teaching is a professionan extremely difficult one. It is one of the most important jobs one can have. And it's a job that deserves to be valued, appreciated and honored. In order to achieve more prestige and value for the teaching profession as a whole, we need to start talking about teaching, and teachers, in a different way. She continues with a bit of 'teaching history,' such as its roots in an agrarian lifestyle and different expectations than today. Teaching has a branding problem; working in education is more than what people think.
Understanding the teaching profession is key to wisely spending money. Training teachers is expensive. States often pay all or a part of college tuition for students who agree to teach in difficult to hire areas, such as special education. Once hired, school districts pay for mentors, workshops and conferences to train new teachers. Teachers often leave the profession because they are unhappy, which is a preventable reason. When teachers leave the profession after states and school districts have invested them, the education system suffers.
Defining and picturing the teaching profession requires looking at difficult questions and answering them honestly. Why are teachers not treated as professionals? How should that change? If teachers are professionals (and their levels of education would say they are), why does their pay not reflect that? Should all teachers be paid the same (more than just a difference between secondary and elementary)? What should be done about the disparity between working hours and pay? Some of the solutions for these problems are impossible to imagine at this stage in the education reform movement. Look at them we must, or continue to train teachers for a profession they will unhappily leave.
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