I wanted to sit down and write this post earlier last week, I just never got the opportunity to.
Having served the first of the next three years on the Teacher of the Year selection committee was a great experience, especially since this is my first year at this school. I got to read through nominations and subsequent essays written by some really wonderful teachers doing amazing things in the classroom, not to mention the actual interview process before we ultimately selected a very worthy candidate.
One thing absolutely floored me from those interviews - and it was consistent across all of the candidates. Everyone feels undervalued by the greater community. I'm not necessarily speaking about those who are directly impacted by education like students and their parents, nor administrators or colleagues, but the larger chunk of the population who seems to have unfavorable views of educators and the profession in general.
I wonder how prevalent this really is or if it is our own self-consciousness projecting inward. Does the community really think we just work from 7:30-2, September through June? Do they really not understand the time it takes to develop plans, write assessments, grade, evaluate and reflect? The time after school, before, and in between helping students with their organization and comprehension? The emails, calls, and other meetings with colleagues, administrators, parents and others?
Is this an actual problem? As budgets are slashed, taxes and funding withheld, does the education profession have an image to shed or re-brand? Yes, there are those who on the first day of school start the 180 day countdown... but they are very few and very far between; quickly becoming relics of an earlier age. I look at my department, my building, and see an overwhelming number of educators who truly go in every day ready to connect and engage their students. I see thirty year veterans looking to learn new technologies, new ways to reach their classes and stay on top of the latest theories and strategies. Why, then, does the one with the paper on the desk and the busy-work on the board become the caricature of the profession?
Those of you not directly involved in the education community let me ask you this. How is the public perception on the other side?