Let’s all stick to what we’re good at

Everyone is good at something.
For some of us, that is teaching.
For others, it is nursing, flying, or electrical work.

But everyone has some sort of skilled task they are better at than others. They are better than others at it because they have years of training, experience, and have studied all of the relevant information in their field.

Never in my life have I walked into the cockpit of an aircraft and told the pilot how I think he should fly the aircraft. Why? Because I’ve not spent any time getting trained or educated in how to fly an aircraft, I do not understand their inner workings, and thus, I should not attempt to fly an aircraft.
I have never gone into the operating room of a hospital and told the surgeon how I think he should perform the surgery. I have not attended medical school and am not qualified to make such a decision.
I’ve not told an electrician how I think my home should be wired because I know equally as much about proper electrical wiring and grounding as I do about flying an aircraft. Which is zero.

Yet for some reason, because everyone has gone to school, people feel like they know everything there is to know about public education and that they are far more knowledgeable about how to teach than the actual teachers are.

You have no idea.

People don’t sit around all day commenting on how surgeons should be performing operations or how elections should be wiring homes, yet for some reason, everyone and their mother feels qualified to know exactly what is wrong with education and exactly how to “fix” it.

More often than not, that solution is, in some shape or form, blame the teachers.

Nevermind the fact that class sizes are exploding, making it difficult for teachers to give each student the attention they deserve.  Yes, a “good” teacher can still differentiate instruction, but the more students you add, the more the teacher has to divide up their time in class, and the less attention each student gets.

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain, because there isn’t one: teachers now play the role of nurse, counselor, and Phys Ed coach.

Ignore the sink that drips, the roof that leaks, and the light on one side that won’t light: run-down schools aren’t the problem.

Today we won’t be having our math lesson because we have to take the district test which tests your readiness for the test on tests.

No folks, it’s the teachers. Really. They are the reasons why your child’s quality of education is so poor. Your child’s quality of education has absolutely nothing to do with the lack of funding education receives in this state (or country for that matter). Teachers are the scapegoat for everything wrong with education. What people fail to realize is that those of us on the “inside” hate it too, just as much as those of you on the “outside”. We want to change it too. We want your kids to learn. We want everyone to learn. But it’s difficult for students to learn when they don’t have enough textbooks, have to be sent home frequently because there is no nurse, have to wear jackets indoors because the heater is broken, and have to compete with 40 other students for attention from one teacher. None of these issues are gripping enough for media spotlight, and it’s difficult for politicians to campaign on a platform of “more textbooks” – so instead they campaign on reform measures which focus on more testing and putting the blame on the teacher for everything.

I will never understand how we can continue to lower the conditions of the classroom and expect things to improve. Until we improve all of the other variables and factors bringing down a student’s education, how can we really say that teachers are the blame?

Tenure is something that “disproportionately harms the education of students from poor and minority school districts” and is therefore unconstitutional. How about the condition of those classrooms? How about the supplies in those classrooms? Are those classrooms as well-maintained as their affluent counterparts? Are there ample supplies? Let’s stop scapegoating teachers and tenure. Tenure is not the root of the issue. The root of the issue has nothing to do with tenure. Bad teachers are just one of MANY issues impacting the quality of education students receive. But where’s the ruling finding classrooms falling apart to be unconstitutional? 

Alas, I digress. I had to restrain myself from going into a Vergara / tenure rant. I promise, that blog post is coming.

Back to the issue at hand: the people who think they know everything about education because, once upon a time, they went to school.

thosewhocanI’m not going to go into a doctor’s office and tell him how to be a doctor, so I’d appreciate it if politicians who don’t understand education would please stop telling us how to be teachers. Unless you’ve taken pedagogy courses, been in the field, and actually TAUGHT in a classroom, you really have no idea what goes on in the world of education, nor are you in a position to actually know what is best for students.

I’m all for more professional development for teachers, more training, and more support. However, those alone are not the fix, because teachers aren’t the only problem. You can’t just push evaluation reform and teacher changes and expect education to get better – we need to look at ALL of the problems impacting education, not just the teachers. You’re giving the car a new coat of paint, but the tires are still flat.

It would be madness if a bunch of people without a background in medicine started telling doctors what treatments to use or what tests to run. Yet we allow this in the field of education. Why should we? Educators need to stand up for their field and make their voices be heard loud and clear. We know what’s best for our students, and it’s time to stand up for THEM and for US.