What on earth is Teacher Professionalism, Anyway?April 27, 2019
Last spring, I hosted some AEI dinners of which a cast of educational leaders sat because of discuss the universal enthusiasm for “personalized learning.” Before too long, the main reason for this lovefest became clear: “personalized learning” means things to different people, everyone was hearing what you were going to. After we dug into what people actually meant by “personalized learning,” the happy phrase been shown to be a tarp thrown over the smoldering number of differences on pedagogy, policy, curriculum, school design, along with the mission of schooling. Now, that can be a seems frustrating, participants found the exercise remarkably illuminating and constructive. It revealed points of commonality, flagged baseless assumptions, and surfaced vital questions that we’ve been slow to ask.
We’re reprising the exercise this fall, tackling the timely topic of “teacher professionalism.” As an alternative to recipes in order to reach one’s destination, we started with the seemingly simple question of, “What is teacher professionalism, anyway?” And, once again, a notable crew (including officials from teacher voice groups, teachers unions, Republican and Democratic administrations, foundations, etc) managed to get clear that individuals approach that deceptively simple query in profoundly various methods. Within the kick-off conversation a week ago, Robert Pondiscio, longtime teacher and from now on senior fellow at Fordham, helped frame the discussion by using a provocative carry out unreasonable expectations, the particular of professionalism, precisely what meaning for educators. Because Robert’s take helped spur such fruitful discussion, I realized it worth sharing. He kindly agreed. So, here going:
Last year I wrote evaluation Mark Seidenberg’s book, Language on the Speed of Sight: How you will Read, Why So Many Can’t, precisely what Can be performed About It. Seidenberg is a leading reading researcher and cognitive neuroscientist on the University of Wisconsin. Here’s my opening graph:
“Cognitive neuroscientists are definitely the Cassandras of education. In case you don’t remember your middle school summary of Greek mythology, Cassandra was blessed together with the gift of prophecy from the god Apollo. But when she refused to nap with him, Apollo didn’t rescind the present, he added a curse: poor Cassandra could still understand the future, but she was doomed don’t be believed. Mark Seidenberg probably wishes he were Cassandra. He must wonder who must screw to acquire people education to hear him.”
I’m uncertain what pops into their heads for some during this room whenever they hear the expression “professionalize teaching.” To me this implies a simple thing: making teaching a task which is doable by mere mortals, not classroom saints and superstars. Which starts by training teachers this is not on theory, this is not on conditions of learning, not from concern for any dispositions they carry on the job, but on . . . oh . . . ways to teach kids to read through.
In that writeup on the Seidenberg book, I described the terror I felt to be a new teacher, and the way grateful I’d been being teaching fifth grade since i hadn’t been taught the vital thing on the way to teach kids to see. But it surely appears my experience was not the exception-it was ordinary. Actually, I’ve a master’s degree in elementary education. Therefore it was a lot like graduating flight school without anybody thinking it was important should have learned to land an airplane.
Since leaving the classroom, I’ve written ad nauseam about curriculum and instruction. In the ed reform world, I’m a bore. In rooms like that I’m the man who says, “Charter schools? Testing? Accountability? Awesome! Now can we talk about the kids do throughout the day?”
So trust me again tonight to bore you achievable question-What perform kids do all the time?-because answering that question for you is how you would “professionalize teaching.” By making it a job that you can do professionally by mere mortals of average sentience. Because that’s who we have now in your classrooms, and everything we will ever have in our classrooms.
We don’t structure the job of teacher due to this hard, cold reality. When I was really a new teacher at PS 277 from the South Bronx, my classroom was sloppy with folks who wished to tell me ways to teach. Coaches, consultants, staff developers, mentors, and assistant principals. However when Industry experts, “OK, but what ought i teach?” I have been met with blank stares or chuckles. “But Mr. Pondiscio, you’re the perfect person to understand your kids need.”
Are you kidding? I really got here!
I don’t have enough to chill the causes for all this. But I’ll leave you with an information point as well as an observation.
A recent study from the RAND Corporation finds that nearly every teacher in America-99 percent of elementary teachers, 96 percent of secondary school-draws upon “materials I developed and/or selected myself” in teaching English language arts. And where do we find these materials? Among elementary school teachers, the most common response is Google-94 percent-followed by Pinterest-87 percent. The numbers are virtually identical for math.
For some reason, we expect teachers being expert at curriculum delivery and expert at curriculum design. So we train them poorly for both jobs. Most schools do not have anything you could call a curriculum in anyway. Exercise . the expectation that many of us should differentiate every lesson to satisfy the needs of everyone student and also the job goes well beyond the capability of almost all of America’s 3.7 million classroom teachers (myself included).
So-heresy alert-I suspect the very question we’re asking tonight-how to professionalize teaching?-is planning to lead us astray. I’d prefer to go through the possibility that teaching isn’t a career in any respect. It’s an art. Like as being a plumber, electrician, or an air traffic controller. Honorable work. As well as the people that accomplish this work are decent in internet marketing. Because they’ve been trained job they’re hired to carry out.
As you would possibly imagine, Robert’s remarks fueled a heated, clarifying discussion of what it implies for teaching as a profession rather than craft, how you will prepare teachers, as well as things we ask teachers to accomplish. As much as we’re inclined to tackle teacher professionalism by talking first about evaluation, compensation, and voice, it usually is that Robert’s heresy will in the end prove a more instructive starting place for.
Frederick Hess is director of education policy studies at AEI and a executive editor at Education Next.
This post originally appeared on Rick Hess Vertically.