Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Teaching and Public Perception: How Do We Advocate For Our Profession?

As an educator I know teaching is hard, but rewarding work.  Teachers are not only responsible for helping children learn, they play a pivotal role in creating a space that is safe for children’s emotional and physical well-being.  From school shootings to weather related disasters, the courageous actions of teachers in the midst of chaos and terror has been in the media multiple times over the past few months.  The selflessness of their actions, the compassion and protection that they offer to their students has been lauded publicly.  There is no doubt in our minds: they are heroes. 

This is a welcome contrast to the portraits that were painted not that long ago of teachers as overpaid, under-qualified drains on the economies of many states.  Who hasn’t heard these comments, “teachers get summers off, they are done working at 3 pm, they don’t work as hard as everyone else” and are members of unions that protect the “bad teachers”?

This extreme dichotomy of opinion on the status and worth of teachers is difficult to digest.   Yet, these attitudes seem to surface in the media repeatedly. 

We need to be proactive and market teaching for what it is: hero’s work.  Teachers may not all be saving children physically, but they are providing students with the tools to reach their potential, catching them when they fall, and serving as strong role models.      

I leave you with a few questions to get you thinking about how we all might become activists for teachers and the profession:

  How do we support our teacher candidates, new teachers, and colleagues to be prepared for, and    
  personally manage shifting public opinion of their profession? 

  As School Districts, Colleges, and Universities, how do we advocate for our profession and shift 
  public perception?  How can we utilize our various strengths and leverage our P-16 partnerships to 
  promote teaching and build support within our shared communities?

  What role do teacher preparation programs play in providing our future teachers with all of the tools 
  needed for supporting student learning, and also being a leader and positive role model in their 

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