Teaching Teachers

“You’re a teacher? You must love it!”
“You’re a teacher? You get to play with kids all day!”
“You’re a teacher? I’d like to teach someday.”

For the record, I don’t love it.

And I don’t play with kids all day. I teach kids all day. And if you think teaching is something you can just pick up when you’re done with your “real job” well, you’re in for quite a shock.

Forgive the bitter tone. Better yet, don’t. The job didn’t make me bitter, but people’s reactions to the job did. Somewhere along the line, people decided that since it was relatively easy to become a teacher, it was easy to actually be one.

So why do it? Because the highs you get from teaching are bigger than anything else. Because today might be the day you turn a child’s life around. Because I still remember my fourth grade teacher.

But this is more than an angry rant. And it’s not even personal. What I’m angry about is the state of education in this county.
Here’s the problem. Every time someone proposes a solution to improve education in this country, they offer one of two solutions. They either suggest, one, a better system of accountability or, two, higher pay.

Now, I’m not against accountability and I’m certainly not opposed to higher pay. But the message being sent by proponents of these two solutions is clear. All teachers need, they say, is more motivation. Offer greater threats or better incentives, and we’ll all be better teachers.

But they’ve overlooked one very important point. Teaching is very, very hard. Yes, there are unmotivated, apathetic teachers. Yes, some teachers really do need to shape up or ship out. But the majority of struggling teachers are struggling because no one every taught them the proper way to teach.

There are apathetic professional performing virtually every job in this country. There are lazy surgeons, careless accountants, and indifferent salespeople in every city across the country. And yet these jobs get done adequately, even by those who aren’t particularly motivated, simply because they were well trained.

In addition to repercussions and incentives, let’s focus on the education of educators. Let’s find a better way to train our teachers and to continue to retrain them throughout their careers. Education is like any other academic field; new research is being performed daily and advancements are always on the horizon.

And the next time you meet a teacher, smile, shake hands and say, “Nice to meet you.”

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