Experienced teachersI am tired of reading all of the negative press regarding teachers at the top of the pay scale and how they need to get rid of those teachers. I have been teaching for 29 plus...

Experienced teachers

I am tired of reading all of the negative press regarding teachers at the top of the pay scale and how they need to get rid of those teachers. I have been teaching for 29 plus years and earned the salary I currently make because of dedication, hard work, searching for new ways to motivate the students and constantly evolving. Would you want a med. student to operate on you or would you want a seasoned professional? I am sick of hearing how the "veteran" teachers are sitting around collecting a fat paycheck. Isn't there something to be said for experience, age and wisdom? What about all of the unpaid lesson planning, grading, phoning and emailing parents, all done on the teacher's time after school. What are your thoughts?

Expert Answers
brettd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I understand your frustration at the way teachers are perceived. I am a teacher as well, but I spent the major part of my adult life in the corporate world, where salary was based on performance, all employees were evaluated annually, and bonuses were given to those who had performed exceptionally well. I see nothing wrong with applying the same conditions to teachers.

The high school in which I teach went to block scheduling about ten years ago. One of the older teachers (42 years on the job!) still cannot cope with teaching for 90 minutes. He is so set in his ways that he teaches for 30-45 minutes (as he had done in a 50-minute period) and then lets the students talk for the rest of the class time. Why is he allowed to get away with that??? If he were in the corporate world, his annual performance evaluation would probably note that he is resistant to change and that his productivity was in decline. He would probably be given a warning and eventually be let go.

Why do we think that teachers are above the same standards that we set for everyone else?

My short answer to your question is that teaching is not a "business", nor are our students "products".  Ours is a career of nuance, communication and interpersonal relationships as much as it is about content and skills acquisition.  Our students, as a whole, are perfect reflections, microcosms of our society.  They are not a demographic or a target audience, they are human beings, in progress.

What check box form could we develop that measures teachers any more effectively than standardized tests measure students?  It might assuage those who are frustrated with the "dead wood" in the teaching profession, but I find so many people speak of those teachers as though they are the rule rather than the exception.  Teaching is about relationships, rapport, and an understanding of human development that can only come with experience, day after day, year after year.  There are a myriad of valuable, intricate, even beautiful learning processes going on in our classrooms that administrators most likely wouldn't even recognize, much less be able to evaluate.

I'm not trying to aggrandize my own self-importance, or that of my profession, or to escape any and all accountability for the salary I earn.  I just think the more we try to simplify and streamline the assessment of students, or the evaluation of teachers, the more we get away from actual education.

brettd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Sure, not 100% of teachers, experienced are not, are the best at what they do.  Some don't try, and probably should be in another career.  Now, take any government agency or large corporation and tell me that's not exactly the case there as well. How about the military?  No one ever talks of cutting their budget.

I think trophyhunter's point, which is well taken by me, is that public education and teachers are seemingly everyone's favorite whipping boy, and I am utterly sick of being metaphorically tossed out with the mediocre bathwater.  I work hard at being good at what I do.  I'm tired of putting in a 60+ hour week with 150+ students and 40 extra hours a month in after school tutoring only to pick up the next day's newspaper to read about what failures we all are because the Swiss score higher on meaningless tests.  I'm tired of being first in line for budget cuts.  I'm tired of my district voting no (three times now) on a $4 a week tax increase to replace a crumbling, 75 year old school so I don't have to teach in a condemned, unsafe portable.  I haven't had a raise in four years, even though state law mandates COLAs for us.  I'm sick of whining, overbearing parents (yes, I said it) who seem to think the entirety of my purpose and effort as a teacher is focused on making sure their kids fail.

So chin up, trophyhunter.  With all due respect, the public and usually the government don't know what they're talking about when it comes to teaching kids or evaluating teachers' worth.  We know the truth.

megan-bright eNotes educator| Certified Educator

"I understand your frustration at the way teachers are perceived. I am a teacher as well, but I spent the major part of my adult life in the corporate world, where salary was based on performance, all employees were evaluated annually, and bonuses were given to those who had performed exceptionally well. I see nothing wrong with applying the same conditions to teachers

 

Why do we think that teachers are above the same standards that we set for everyone else?"

 

 

 

Because teachers work with children who are all unique and come with extremely diverse backgrounds, strengths, weaknesses, motivations, levels of intelligence, and so on. Teachers should not be held above anyone else's standards but they should be held to different standrards with all factors taken into account in regards to their performance.

Unlike a non-living, man-made product, each person's brain is completely different and each child learns in different ways.

Furthermore, students have free will. Teachers cannot control how often students come to school, whether they sleep at night, whether they are eating properly, whether they want to graduate, or whether they actually want to learn.

A teacher's performance should not depend on student factors beyond her control. Hold me accountable for what I do in regarrds to my job description, but do not ridicule and fire me because I could not control another human being's actions.

catd1115 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think the reality is that it is not only the experienced teachers who take far too much criticism. I agree that if you are good at what you do and have earned your salary over years of work and experience good for you! But unfortunately (as mentioned before) there are two many bad apples who get all the press.

I believe the real problem is in a lack of respect for education in America. It doesn't exist everywhere but the results seem to bleed out into our entire society. I grew up in an area of educated families who believed in the importance and power of education. I now teach in another area of the country where school is just someplace your kids have to go. When so much of our society doesn't think education is important, how can we expect them to respect those providing education? Doctors and lawyers continue to make more money and be far more respected than equally educated and hard working teachers, but that is because our society recognizes what they do as important. Until more of America sees education as the key to a thriving future, teachers will never get the money or respect they deserve. Unfortunate but true.

All we can is do our best to be good examples of what the best in our profession looks like. Keep changing things one student at a time.

amy-lepore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I'm with you...I haven't been teaching 29 years, but in eleven more years, I'll be where you are.  I spend my summers researching and coming up with newer, different, more interactive ways to engage students and help them learn what my teachers expected me to get out of a lecture.  I go to workshops, AP seminars, and other training on my time (summers, weekends, after school hours) without pay, and often having to pay for childcare for which I am not reimbursed.  School districts do not pay for their teachers to go back to school or for the renewal of their teaching credentials...many other "professions" do this and more for their employees. 

Teachers are expected to do everything other professionals do (and more) for less money and less public respect.  It's degrading and upsetting that I have to find time to teach because of all the state mandates I now have to complete during classtime in order to bring up state testing scores.  For instance, I am teaching MATH daily in my ENGLISH class because our state math scores were so low last year.  Things that make you go "hummm".

linda-allen eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I understand your frustration at the way teachers are perceived. I am a teacher as well, but I spent the major part of my adult life in the corporate world, where salary was based on performance, all employees were evaluated annually, and bonuses were given to those who had performed exceptionally well. I see nothing wrong with applying the same conditions to teachers.

The high school in which I teach went to block scheduling about ten years ago. One of the older teachers (42 years on the job!) still cannot cope with teaching for 90 minutes. He is so set in his ways that he teaches for 30-45 minutes (as he had done in a 50-minute period) and then lets the students talk for the rest of the class time. Why is he allowed to get away with that??? If he were in the corporate world, his annual performance evaluation would probably note that he is resistant to change and that his productivity was in decline. He would probably be given a warning and eventually be let go.

Why do we think that teachers are above the same standards that we set for everyone else?

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I agree with you that there is something to be said for experience and such.  However, I think that the problem comes from the fact that we all know of teachers who just coast.  I have known a number of teachers who turn on the video and do nothing else or who play chess in their rooms with their students when they are supposed to be doing math class.  They are not the majority by any means, but students talk about them (since they're predisposed to want to complain) and parents hear about them.

This fits in the image that the public has of teachers in the first place.  It sounds like an easy thing to do, we get the summers off, etc.  So when people hear stories about these bad teachers (who do exist) the stories play into their preconceived stereotypes.

So I agree with you, but I also see where the animosity comes from.

kapokkid eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I don't think it really matters too much how much experience you have in years, but it certainly does matter how you use it.  Some teachers use it to get by on less and less effort, using recycled lesson plans over and over and never trying anything new.  They are buddy buddy with admin so they can get away with anything.

Then there are experienced teachers constantly searching out new ways of improving what they do and helping younger teachers get past the burn out that is almost inevitable in the first few years.

And what people say is ridiculous, you can't hold teachers responsible unless they get to make all the decisions about what they do and how they teach.  I'd look first at admin if you want real people that are to blame.

rskardal eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It may be small comfort, but you are certainly not alone. I read many blogs from teachers that express very similar responses, and, sadly, many of these teachers are frustrated because they feel that their voice is not being heard. Reporters are starting to focus a bit more on the teacher's story, but I'm afraid things are not going to get better any time soon.

A few blogs that are following this story:

The Answer Sheet * Perdido Street School * A Passion for Teaching and Opinions * Larry Ferlazzo * For the Love of Learning

You might also consider looking into Diane Ravitch's Death of the Great American Public School. She also maintains a blog called "Bridging Differences."

Good luck.

kiwi eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I am in my 18th year at the chalkface (interactive whiteboard face now of course) and I am happy where I am, enjoying the energy of new students, new texts and new experiences each year. I was coaxed into the senior management role a couple of years ago and I hated it. The money was good, but I found I missed real people and spent my days surrounded by buzzwords and bureaucrats. I baled out thankfully! My students tell me I'm a good teacher, parents seem to like what I do, but there's little reward or recognition from the system at large. I love being in my classroom, or planning for when I'm in my classroom: its the stuff beyond it which (to quote my seniors) sucks!

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I truly think that everyone goes into the teaching profession with the best intentions.  Over time, though, the system wears you down.  Teachers get jaded because you can only take so many years of being poorly treated by just about everyone: administrators, other teachers, students, parents and the community. 

That being said, I also think many teachers manage to avoid this depression.  I think the secret is to find a positive school and try to keep it positive.  I have worked in a lot of negative schools, and it is not an environment you can survive for long.  Enough years of that would make anyone bitter.

 

ask996 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Lack of respect is definitely one of the key factors affecting education and quality teachers. From parents to students, from students to communities, from communities to the legislatures-huge lack of respect. So perhaps if educators are willing to go the distance, grumblers should keep their mouths shut about the "high salaries" and the three months off. Try walking a day in a typical teacher's shoes.

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I have to agree with other postings that itis just teachers in general who invite bad press. Teaching by its very nature is a job that involves massive of unpaid overtime that goes completely unrecognised and unnoticed by the majority of the world's population. We must be mad to do what we do! But seriously, veteran teachers are such an asset to education and should not be picked out for censure.

trophyhunter1 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

amen to that, Brett D!

thewanderlust878 | Student

Though I am not a teacher, I think there is definitely something to be said here. If I were a teacher, I could definitely understand your frustrations. It seems to me that the people making these claims are simply jealous and upset that people who have worked their way to the top are getting paid more. My guess is they will probably never be a good enough teacher to rightfully earn those kinds of wages if they just sit around and complain about people better than them. 

rioaguilar | Student

Teacher- most people think that a good teacher is a person who perfectly knows everything, but the truth is, teachers are just guide of students in their studies, teachers are also human that are continously learning, possible that not all question can be answered by a techer immediately but for sure he'll find ways to answer it for you. Teaching is not a job it is a passion.....

astanley50 | Student

I am now in my 22nd year of teaching. I am certainly a better teacher today than when I started all those years ago. Recently, I had a discussion with a gentleman about the teaching career. He was complaining about the holidays that we get, the great hours, and the great pay.

I am in Manitoba, Canada, and I do believe that we get a fair salary here. I am not sure, but I have heard that the pay scale is lower in the United States.

I am at work by 0700 each day, and never get out of there until at least 6 pm. I go in on weekends. I work from home in the evenings. Those calls to parents and the marking and prepping do not magically get done. They all take time to do well. We are professionals and put in the time it takes to do it right.

I went to University for five years to get my two degrees. I have earned the title of "Teacher" which I hold with pride. I will never shy away from telling people that is what I do for a living. It is my passion.

After I went through all of this with him, I determined that he was upset becasue he did not like his job nor the benefits. I told him that I was sorry for him, but he could always go back to University and get his degree and enter the field. But, I cautioned him that if he was going into it for the money or the time off, he would regret it very much. Teachers are very special people, and this is somehting that cannot be faked. He would not last a week in a school if his motives were skewed, which I think they would be. Be proud!!

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