Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Five Changes to Education--A new Meme

A dear friend of mine started this wonderful meme and has made me really think about the future of education. You should check out Terry’s blog at We are hoping that this will create some thoughtful discourse on the state of education. There is much finger pointing, some of it deserved, buut let's dream of a world that we get to make decisions and where the learning and the kids are FIRST and all the real world of budgets and excuses are last.

List FIVE changes you would like to see in the educational system. Your responses should represent your perspective and your passion for learning and students.

Here is my list:

1. Technology would not be something that we strive to integrate, but something that is a natural part of the classroom, just as it is a part of the world today. Our students do and will live in a different world than most of us grew up in. It is imperative that we, as teachers, do our very best to keep up and prepare them for that world. We must help them learn how to think deeply and problem solve as they will encounter problems we can’t even fathom today.

2. Teachers should never have to move up to administration to make a decent living in the education world. I believe that tiered licensure is a great idea. Teachers should have the option to be teachers or to take on more responsibilities as master teachers helping mentor other teachers. Teaching should not be done in isolation and many of us have so much to offer to our fellow teachers.

3. Merit pay has a place in education. Why should a teacher down the hall make more money than another just because they have lived longer? Teachers should be paid according to the skills they have and the success they have in the classroom. The tricky part is figuring out who decides the pay. There are far too many administrators that have their own agenda and would not be able to make fair decisions. There are ways to do this fairly and the TAP program seems to have it figured out. And, yes, I work in the state with the lowest teacher pay in the nation, so I do believe we are underpaid. My pay may not force me out of the profession, but it certainly is impeding many districts from having quality applicants for many of their positions and that concerns me!

4. Teacher training would properly prepare teachers for the classroom and there would be support in place to help new teachers through those first few difficult years. We are facing a teacher shortage and we lose many of the ones we do get in within the first five years. Many of them come out of the university with stars in their eyes and are not rooted in the reality of just how difficult the job is. Good teachers work long hours prepping lessons, grading papers, and continually learning. The school day takes far more energy than they are prepared for and there are a lot of extra duties that they have no idea about. Too many college professors have not been in a K-12 setting for a very long time, if at all. It is one thing to teach theory and another to give them the tools they will need to survive!

5. Professional Development must be teacher-driven. The best professional development I have every gotten was the National Board process, but it was something I chose and something that was about my classroom and my teaching. I have also learned much from some conference I have had the great fortune to attend, but my principal is very good about letting the staff ask to go to conferences that interest them, although she will sometimes point one out to us if she thinks it offers something of value for us.

6. I am going to add one real fantasy wish. I wish that teaching would once again become the highly respected profession it once was. In some regards, this is our own fault. I have heard far too many teachers say, “I am just a teacher.” There is no just in what we do. We should be proud of the impact we have on our students’ lives and our role in shaping the leaders of tomorrow. We need to be willing to publicly express our pride in what we do. But most teachers are humble and believe we are serving the greater good quietly on the sideline. We are not in the business to toot our own horns. We just want the respect to magically be there.

I tag the following people... All from a variety of perspectives. If you have been tagged, tag as many people as you choose, but try for a variety.

Kevin Honeycutt - (Tech integration specialist)
Karen McMillan - (Teacher)
Heather Burleson - (Teacher and Tech Integrationist)
Cynthia Garrety - (University Professor)
Sharon Elin - (Instructional technology integrater)
Kymberli Mulford - (Learning specialist)