- What do you do to strengthen and improve the teaching profession?
- What is and/or what should be the basis for accountability in the teaching profession?
The best thing I can do to strengthen the teaching profession as a whole is to become the best teacher I can be and then share the knowledge and strategies that I have gleaned with my fellow educators. Improving myself is a goal I actively work on by reading professional books, attending conferences, and connecting with other educators on social media. Next I do what I can to help other teachers improve, including those in my school and around the world through the Internet. I love teaching teachers, and one way I do this is through my blog. I write about when things in my classroom go well, but I find it even more meaningful when I blog about my failures in the classroom. This models growth mindset and allows others to learn from my mistakes.
One example of a “face palm” teaching experience that I blogged about entailed my attempt to bring another new technology into my classroom. We were using a new quizzing app that was still in beta testing mode. As I’ve mentioned above, I’m always very excited about incorporating brand new tech into my instruction, though I fear this time I may have jumped the gun. The app was very glitchy and it malfunctioned not once or twice, but repeatedly until I had to wave a white flag of surrender and give up on the endeavor entirely. Although this was a frustrating situation that I did not enjoy a the time, sharing the experience on my blog allowed me to show fellow educators that perfection is impossible and we all must roll with the punches as teachers.
Along with sharing my thoughts on the teaching profession, I strive to get new ideas from other teachers too. Participating in Twitter chats allows me to converse with other educators whom I would never have had a chance to meet otherwise. Although it may seem like Twitter is far from professional, it has become a platform for many teachers and brilliant minds in the field to come together. It also creates a direct communication pathway to the authors of many amazing books, including those about education. One of the many writers that I’ve been in contact with is the author of Teach Like a Pirate, Dave Burgess. This book is a foundation of my teaching
philosophy as it focuses on maximizing student engagement. I may or may not have squealed with glee the first time Burgess retweeted me. Without Twitter, it’s unlikely that I would be able to exchange ideas with an author that I hold in such high regard. Making Twitter part of my professional development has both improved my own teaching and allowed me to improve the teaching profession all over the world.
In the comments of my blog or during chats on Twitter, I get a lot of push back from teachers for adding more to their already full plates. Likewise, administrators can mandate professional development, reflection, and required reading all they want, but if teachers don’t want to or don’t feel it’s necessary, they won’t get anything out of it. So my encouragement to teachers is to take the initiative! Go above and beyond. Do whatever it takes to be the best you can be. Don’t settle for good enough. It may seem like a lot of work, but the end result is so worth it.
Who can best see whether teachers are taking these steps to become more effective? I believe that accountability for teachers should fall on the shoulders of the administrators in their buildings. Nobody can know what is going on in individual classrooms and schools better than the principals charged with leading them; this is authentic accountability. Administrators should not just be the iron fist of the school, mandating legislation and curriculum inflexibly. The role of administrator is extremely important, and their leadership dictates the tone set in the school. There needs to be real coaching relationships fostered between teachers and their evaluators and a level of professional trust built. School districts and the department of education need to have trust in their principals as well. True growth will come when the community of educators in a school trust each other and strive to always improve.