Better Teacher or Better Job?
Posted November 5, 2011on:
While enjoying my coffee this morning, I read the November/Deceember issue of American Teacher, a publication of the American Federation of Teachers. One of the articles was a review of a book by John Merrow, The Influence of Teachers:Reflections on Teaching and Leadership. The reviewer noted that Merrow “comes across as a real fan of teachers.” Two paragraphs of the review really gave me pause:
In conclusion, Merrow says there are two competing views on how to improve education. One is the “better teacher” view, which holds that “if the problem is mediocre teachers, the solution is obvious: if they cannot be retrained, replace them with better people.”
The second is what he calls the “better job” view, which holds that “the problem is with the job itself: teachers aren’t respected, classes are too large, an administrators don’t punish unruly students and so forth. Therefore, the solution is to make teaching prestigious, rewarding and attractive–a job worth fighting for.”
This is not an either/or condition. It’s a both/and. Yes, we need better teachers. All teachers can become better teachers…always reflecting, always revising, always learning, And those who struggle need to be given support and opportunity to improve. If they cannot, they need to be counseled out of the profession. Teaching also could use a boost in the “better job” category. Improving cultures of collaboration where teachers can work with colleagues to reflect and improve on their practices is necessary to make teaching a “better job” with the added benefit of molding “better teachers.”
Ending the political and media sport of teacher (and union) bashing would be a really good place to start.
What do you think?