Everyone working the field of education today has heard the arguments for and against the Common Core Curriculum as well as the benefits and drawbacks of increased standardized testing. Interestingly, anyone graduating from college with their degree in education has undoubtedly done some type of research regarding these topics, but has also experienced the additional testing required to earn certification credentials as a teacher, along with additional testing for areas of specialization, and additional learning experiences in order to maintain certifications, as well as even more testing for additional certifications to be able to make certifications permanent and be able to be considered for positions of supervisory responsibility.
If only the business world worked that way!
Any new teacher also knows the difficulty associated with seeking a position within a school or school district, from the “cattle call” first interviews, to the second interviews that are offered at non-negotiable time slots, to the realization that, sometimes, qualifications are trumped by nepotism.
Then, when an offer is received, it’s more than likely a substitute position, or is in an area where the cost of living is so outrageous that finding a safe living location for an affordable rent isn’t very realistic on a starting teacher’s salary, meaning that an additional source of income is necessary, or a roommate needs to be found. If the latter’s the case, it’s just like starting college all over again, isn’t it? Going to class every day, and having to deal with sharing space with another person that you really know very little about.
Schools that prepare teachers certainly address their professional qualifications, but the “system” does nothing to assist in the personal adjustment for perhaps one of the most important functions in society – the education of its youth.
So let’s go back a couple thousand years to see how an education system was instituted back then, and was so successful that the organization still exists today. What organization? The Christian Church, with Jesus as its leader.
Make no mistake, this has nothing to do with content, so faith-based curriculum and their current environments have nothing to do with this suggested approach. The focus is on “how” the education, the curriculum, the “message,” was delivered. In other words, what technology was used to facilitate the education? Remember, technology can be as simple as a piece of chalk writing on a sidewalk, a pencil writing on a piece of paper, or a finger writing in the sand.
Jesus taught His followers, and they were called His “Disciples.” There were the 72 followers who were “sent forth” to spread His salvific vision to the world. So, do you remember how they were sent out?
If you said “two by two,” you’d be correct.
How do we “send forth” our teachers of today?
One by one.
Even in the practice of student teaching, a teacher is guided by the classroom teacher they are assigned to. So, the practice of “two by two” is still in effect. The problem happens when a school district hires 16 teachers, and when you read their biographies, you find they’re from sixteen different colleges.
Here’s a suggestion: consider hiring 16 teachers, but make them from 8 different colleges, since they will have known one another through their educational process. This way, they can find a place to live together, can support one another in the new teacher induction program, and can potentially share rides to school, and even rides back home when the school is on break.
Schools and school districts need to start seriously thinking about their most valuable assets, which are also what makes them different from every other school or school district around them. When schools are looking for what their school has that makes them unique in the marketplace, excellent academics, cutting-edge technology, championship sports teams and first-class activities are now expectations of today’s parents. It’s your school’s mix of teachers which make them distinctive, and make those qualities of excellence a reality in your school.
Further, with common-core curriculum and standardized testing, your school’s academic program is going to be increasingly viewed by parents to be “standardized,” and therefore, not uniquely suited to the unique needs of their child. What’s going to make the difference in the lives of their children as we move forward? Think back to what made a difference in your life, and why you chose education as your life’s vocation. It probably wasn’t because of your high school football team. It probably wasn’t because your phys ed class met for 90 minutes twice in a 6-day cycle instead of meeting for 60 minutes three times. It certainly wasn’t because April was dedicated to daily testing. It was probably because of the profound impact a teacher had on you.
Start thinking about them as more than just “human resources.”
But wait a minute – public school boards are usually made up of community members that bring a particular expertise, point of view or concern to the table. Maybe one or two of them were teachers themselves, but more than likely, they’re not. That means people that have not experienced life as a teacher are making decisions about something they know very little about.
Think upon that this week.