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Teaching isn’t a temporary job… or it shouldn’t be

October 9, 2007 pm31 3:41 pm

But some days it sure seems like a temp job. How many newly certified teachers are in your building? If you are in New York City, the number is probably high. And it’s probably been high year after year, as new teachers leave. Is the rest of the country all that different?

Blame the schools, the local, state, or federal government, television, TFA, bad alternative certification programs, or weak teachers themselves? Sure, they are all responsible. I mean, who thought that a 2 or 3 year commitment was a good thing to ask for? Someone who likes unstable schools, that’s for sure. And many new teachers are lousy? News bulletin – that’s not news. I was horrible. So were many of you. We deserved support (that too few of us found).

But today let’s talk about us, about teachers. Not temporary teachers. Teachers who are in it for the long haul. Having temps shuffling in and out is horrible. It deprofessionalizes us. It destabilizes our schools. It cheats our students from consistently having experienced teachers. Let’s do something about it. Let’s help some of these new teachers stay. How about today?

  • share lessons with a new teacher
  • show a new teacher how to find supplies, or find them for him
  • help a new teacher stay out of a bad supervisor’s way
  • let a new teacher know about their rights
  • if you can’t do anything else, show some sympathy
  • help a new teacher with a difficult kid
  • and challenge other more experienced teachers with this list.

It’s not about being nice. It’s resisting. From the grass roots.

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. sphyrnatude permalink
    October 9, 2007 pm31 4:13 pm 4:13 pm

    what makes teaching “temporary” is the fact that it is almost impossible to make aliving at it, and as a career, it has about as much respect as a garbage colelctor (but at least garbage collectors make good money).

    Almost all public schools have devolved to simply state-funded day care, with a little bit of information (often wrong) thrown in. Once again, a professional day care worker will make more than a teacher, so why bother?

    The best teachers pretty quickly realize that public schools are a waste, and either move into another industry or move into the provate education areana. A few of the good teachers stick to public education for a reason that only they know.

    Public schools will continue to be nothing but daycare until a degree from a public school actually means something other than that the kid had the patience to sit through 12 years of pap, and probably has the critical thinking abilities of a cucumber. (I guess that DOES mean a degree from a public school means something, but not something good….). Maybe vouchers would make a difference. Mayube some sort of real accountability would make a difference. Probably not though, becuase most parents want to believe that ther kids failings are someone else’s fault, and the schools are an weasy blame when some kid “graduates” but can’t read, write or solve a basic problem.

  2. October 9, 2007 pm31 7:43 pm 7:43 pm

    off topic but you might know the answer to this…

    is it a DOE policy to have window shades in every room? our trailers don’t have any.

  3. ms. v permalink
    October 10, 2007 am31 2:53 am 2:53 am

    nice, Jonathan

    can I add to the list?

    -help a new teacher organize a field trip (when s/he is ready for that)

    I’ve always felt that young people who recently entered the work world are suckers for inertia… if things are reasonably good, they’ll stick around longer than you expected, longer than they expected, because the alternative is another leap into the unknown. so we need to make our new teachers as happy as possible – partly through systemic reform, but also through the little things we do to help them become good at what they do and get through each day. I was on my way into what I figured would be my third and last year teaching when I got an opportunity to work in a better school with people who respected and supported me. and here I am, 8 years later. who knew? ;-)

  4. October 10, 2007 pm31 3:21 pm 3:21 pm

    P.O.T. – I will ask today.

    ms. v – you are right! Although by the time a teacher is ready for a field trip, they’ve usually gotten over the first hump already. And then there’s the Friday afternoon kind of field trip… but that depends on the “culture” of the school.

  5. October 11, 2007 pm31 10:08 pm 10:08 pm

    Good advice.

    I am alternatively certified in speech/drama and am a “career educator”; I’ve been on the job for fifteen years now. None of the three intern teachers I’ve had, from our premier state teacher’s college, have stayed in the profession.

  6. October 12, 2007 am31 4:57 am 4:57 am

    Good post. I think about this time of thing when I look at my own 3 years of p.s. education. Unfortunately, we don’t have enough teacher development within the building. Just a bunch of finger-pointing and “We’ll do that soon.” Yet they want teachers to be conduits for proper behavior and an example for the rest of the school. That’s confusing and double-talk at that.

  7. October 13, 2007 am31 6:59 am 6:59 am

    P.O.T. no answer. Will keep asking.

    Jennifer, I know it’s true in New York; I suspect it’s true everywhere. So that advice of mine, it won’t fix things, but it will help, even if just a little bit. And better yet, it lets all of us, regular teachers, it lets us play a part.

    And Jose, part of the answer here, we know the admins in most schools don’t do a good job, but the teachers? We know how new teachers get overworked and abused, and we can take some steps to help them avoid some of the worst of it. So, why not?

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