This is my space to rant and rave, vent and vex about education, my passion. I am calling it "Mining for Hidden Gems" because of the above quote and because as a teacher, my job is to look for those gems. The real valuable ones are not usually on the surface. You have to dig deep to find them.

I am also borrowing from Katherine Bomer's wonderful book Hidden Gems: Naming and Teaching From the Brilliance in Every Student's Writing. It has changed the way I look at not just student work but students themselves and all people around me.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

If Teachers Were Doctors

Let me first give my reasons as to why teachers are like doctors:
  • Uneducated individuals are a burden to the rest of the society, as much as or more than unhealthy ones.
  • The effects of good and bad teaching are life-long and consequential, much like the results of good and bad medicine.
  • A good teacher must "diagnose" every student in order to be able to teach him or her in the most effective way possible.  This is not an easy task because many times the student cannot articulate his or her difficulty, or the teacher does not have all the resources to perform an accurate assessment of the learning problem.  In addition, one teacher usually has to manage twenty or more "patients" simultaneously and single handedly.
Now, if we agree that the job of the teacher is just as valuable as a medical doctor's, then we must:
  • Treat teachers with the same professionalism as doctors and consider them "specialists" in their fields
  • Have educators set the standards for educators and not politicians
  • Free them from administrative and non-teaching tasks so they can focus on instruction. (Would you interrupt a doctor during a visit or operation? Why do we feel then that it is O.K. to interrupt teachers during their instruction?)
  • And yes, we would pay teachers as well as we do doctors.
Of course, if we want to be treated as a professional and an expert in our field, we as teachers must:
  • Raise the standards for entering teacher preparation programs.
  • Increase the rigor of studies in education.
  • Expect teachers to keep their practice up to date and use only the most effective and research based strategies.
  • Accept to be reviewed by our peers (just as doctors do)
  • Hold ourselves responsible for our practice.

1 comment:

  1. Great comparison! Though patients are to be their own best advocate, most patients and their loved ones do not undermine or disregard the training and expertise of their doctors. Stakeholders in the world of education must be their own best advocates as well without forgetting that teachers are well-trained professionals with the best interests of students always at the forefront of what they do. As a society, we hold doctors in high regard because we view the service that they provide as paramount to our continued health and longevity. We, as a society, must elevate teaching to the same level of respect.

    I have enjoyed a beautiful partnership with all of the stakeholders in my classroom over the past five years. I have received beneficial questions regarding needs of students and my practice which have served to sharpen me. I have received support that goes unmatched for the work that my students and I do in the classroom. I have received consideration for my expertise in the field from parents, students and colleagues.

    Unfortunately, this is not the experience of many teachers. There are teachers whose authority and expertise are being undermined constantly. Are there good teachers and bad teachers just as there are good doctors and bad doctors? I am sure there are. It is my opinion, however, that doctors are judged competent until proven otherwise. At times, for teachers it seems society's judgement is the opposite.

    Next to parenting, teaching is the toughest job one will ever love! The profession requires a level of critical thinking, problem-solving, continuous improvement, diversity, knowledge, skills, empathy, and commitment like no other... and I believed that before I became a teacher. Teachers do more before 9 am than most people do all day! That's why I became one.