Friday, November 21, 2014

"My Profession No Longer Exists"

I was engaged in a rich discussion with a teacher this afternoon to discuss an observation I conducted with her as part of our teacher evaluation system.  Although the process can be time-consuming, the end-result is an honest conversation about the classroom, the students, the successes, and the challenges as well as the growth of the teacher. I honestly can say that I enjoy these reflective conferences and the opportunity to get to know the teacher better.

Then I went to check on my email. My husband had sent me a link to an article, and I was curious; he rarely sends me links, especially those about education. It was an article that was printed in the Daily Kos titled,"Teacher's resignation letter: 'My profession . . .  no longer exists' first published in April 2013. As I read the letter in its entirety, I was saddened. Here was someone who clearly was proud to be a teacher. He devoted 40 years to the profession, and now he was quitting because he lost faith in the system and the leadership at his school and in his district.

I have read many letters or blogs from disgruntled educators who feel we have lost our way. There are so many things to complain about - the Common Core State Standards, high-stakes testing, ranking of schools based on test scores, the comparison of schools by the public based on those rankings, test scores weighing heavily on teacher and principal evaluations, and the top-down mandates that keep schools and teachers from being empowered to address the needs of their students. I've been a critic, too, and I have been vocal about these concerns with my colleagues or in my blogs.

But even after 40+ years as an educator, I still love what I do. With all the changes taking place and the expectations of the public regarding teaching and learning, we need leaders who will support our teachers so they can do what they have been trained to do -- teach our students so they can gain the skills to reach their maximum potential. This means empowering our teachers to be innovative and to try new ideas in their classroom. It means having a venue for sharing ideas and problem-solving together. It means providing support and learning experiences so teachers can continue to improve.  It means building the capacity of our staff so everyone is valued for what they can offer to the group. When we work together towards our common goals, everyone benefits, especially our students!

Being an educator is challenging, but I cannot imagine a more rewarding profession to be in!

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