The other day in the grocery store I overheard two moms talking about their local school. As usual, being an educator, my ears perked up, and I guiltily admit that I started to eavesdrop on their conversation. One of the mothers was explaining to the other how she could never get in touch with her child's teacher to discuss concerns because the school was always closed so early. The other mom agreed and they earnestly began a diatribe against teachers. Steadily my ears got hotter and hotter and I threatened to step into the conversation when one of the mothers threw out, "Those people have the easiest job. They get there at eight and leave at three, take summers and all holidays off and get paid for it! No wonder education is going downhill."
At that point I had two levels of thought going on in my head. On the first level I was furious with these mothers who had not the slightest clue of what is really involved in quality teaching. However, at the same time, I had to remind myself that I did not personally know the teachers under discussion by these two. I can only speak for my own self and my level of dedication and professionalism. The two moms ended their conversation and headed off in two different directions. I, however, stood rooted to the spot as emotions and thoughts roiled around in my brain.
This conversation against teachers started a chain reaction of reflection for me in regards to teaching as a profession. Obviously these two mothers were of the opinion that teaching is merely a job and a part-time one at that. What gave them this impression? Also, why do so many in the community at large have these same feelings about teaching? Oh, anyone who hears I'm a teacher will say to me, "Teachers have the toughest job. I admire you for what you do." But everyday conversations, media reports, and even certain legislations, tend to belie that comment. Why is it that teaching is considered more of a job (or glorified babysitters) than a profession? As educators we consider ourselves to be professionals, yet others in the community rarely give us the same designation. Why is that?
Although historically there are many reasons for the current attitude towards teachers, I believe that it is in no small part related to our own behaviors and attitudes about teaching. How then, can we demonstrate that we are professionals? I believe that being a professional educator requires:
- A professional appearance and demeanor
- A sense of dedication
- Continued training
- Collaboration with others
What do you think?