Those Who Can’t Do, Teach… The most hated and over-used saying when discussing the teaching profession! Are there lazy or incompetent teachers out there? Sure! However, there are lazy and incompetent people in every profession! So, what is it about teaching that encourages this reputation and allows it to flourish unchallenged?
The Mistaken Misconception
To begin, a large portion of our society does not value teachers like they should. We can see this by the low pay, low-quality training programs and general lack of reflection on the teaching role. When people outside of the teaching profession think about teachers, they think about summer vacations and the early 3:30 end to the work day. They don’t think about the 12 hour days (or more!), the working nights, weekends and vacations, or about the staying after school to tutor, coach or participate in professional development. So much of what a teacher does goes unrecognized, and it is all too easy for the uninitiated to mistakenly focus on all of the perks to being a teacher, while neglecting to see teaching in its true light.
The Unfortunate Unspoken View
In addition, since the field of teaching is generally filled with women, it is easy to consider it a role of secondary importance – one that can be filled “part-time” while still allowing women to spend time with their children and take care of the home. Although in external conversations, we talk about the gender roles being less rigid and more balanced – in the reality of our social consciousness, women shouldn’t be working a “difficult,” “important,” or “demanding” job, because their efforts should be spent taking care of the families. (Do I support this train of thought? No! But I believe it’s the prevalent subconscious view of our society.) As long as teaching is viewed as a hobby or of secondary importance, it will never garnish the appreciation it deserves.
The World-Changing Potential of Teachers
Lastly, as with everything else, the media loves to talk about bad teachers! Of all the horror stories that are out there, there are hundreds of amazing stories of powerful, inspiring teachers that never get told. And although teaching is definitely not alone in the list of professions with slackers or horrible people, the bad publicity makes it easy to perpetuate this view.
The problem we’re failing to recognize about this continued discrediting of teachers is the significant impact it has on our future. Teachers have the ability to change the world! Every single entrepreneur, future president, mother and father in America has been impacted by at least one great teacher. Every single delinquent, drop-out or advantage-taker COULD have been impacted by a great teacher. But as long as teaching is viewed as a disrespected, waste of a career profession, it’s going to be hard for more amazing people to want to choose this occupation. And so the reputation and poor results will continue.
Invalidate The Phrase, Start the Shift
So, what do we do to invalidate the phrase? Right now, stop thinking of teachers as people who settled for their job so they can do other things (travel on vacation, raise their families, etc.). Start seeing the long, difficult hours that teachers put in every day. TALK ABOUT GREAT TEACHERS. The only way we can shift the collective mind-set of our society to start recognizing teachers as vital, powerful people with a major impact on our future is to start focusing on the greatness that is happening in our classrooms. Let’s start sharing with our families, our neighbors and our social networks how much we appreciate what GREAT teachers do. And raise the bar! Expect teachers to be brilliant. If we continue to settle for teachers who have settled for their job, the profession will continue to fill up with those “who can’t do…” Let’s start holding our schools accountable for finding “those who WANT TO DO”… hard work, better, dedication and brilliance. There are far more of these amazing teachers out there who deserve a better reputation, better conditions and better compensation. But we can’t get there until the paradigm shifts. What can you do right now to start the shift? Share!