YES! It really is all about teachers and I was pleased to see Berry acknowledging this at several points in the first half of the book “Teaching 2030”. I, like him, don’t believe that any technology in the world will ever eradicate teachers from the world of education. After all research (and lots of it) has shown that the top-performing school systems in the world all share one consistent feature: top-performing teachers. I think it’s about time we paid more attention to them; to us; to ME!
And I’m not alone in this sentiment. I was fortunate enough to attend a screening of “American Teacher” two weeks ago during the Austin Film Festival. I was so inspired by the movie I decided to try to get a screening at my school. I succeeded. On Tuesday November 8, 2011, 15 or so teachers gathered in the cafeteria of my school to watch this thought-provoking movie about the crisis in education. Being proactive in spreading their message was something I committed to on leaving the auditorium that day. I can’t change things single-handedly – it really does take a village and I am now proud to be part of that village!
This Teacher Salary Project, of which the movie forms a part, is based on the New York Times bestselling book Teachers Have It Easy by journalist and teacher Daniel Moulthrop. He, and others like him, hope to bring an awareness to the real and imminent crisis in our educational system—how little we value our strongest, most committed, and most effective teachers, and the ripple effect this has on how our children learn and their potential for future success.
Large amounts of the content of “Teaching 2030” was reminiscent of points raised in the movie and I felt so positive on reading this. Yes, it might conjure up images of never to be attained things but it’s nice, as a teacher, to know that people are thinking this way – and a lot of people at that. A very knowledgeable professor once told me, “Just because you think you can’t change things doesn’t mean you don’t try.” Here, here! (A British parliament expression for those of you non-Brits out there!)
In my career spanning ten years, two countries and two continents, many have criticized me for being idealistic; for wanting to challenge the unchangeable. I have been accused of being an “overachiever” and have been ridiculed, yes ridiculed, by colleagues for my vision for education. But why shouldn’t I dream? Didn’t some one very famous person have a dream…and we all know what happened with that don’t we? I am not for one minute, trying to compare myself with the great Martin Luther King, my simple point being: Let me, and others like me, try to change what’s wrong with education. Let us imagine teaching as “an adaptive profession that empowers and rewards members who develop their pedagogical talent, spread and “sell” their expertise, and find innovative solutions to the challenges their students face” (Berry, 2011, p. 18).
While the cause for teacher professionalism has stalled and the NCTFs’ recommendations a distant memory, we do have a choice: reignite the debate and the passion for encouraging and rewarding teacher knowledge; allow teachers to share their skills without leaving the classroom; treat our best teachers in a manner conducive to their talent OR forever mourn their passing. I am not much in to the latter so I plan to embrace the former and continue my crusade! At least for now, I know I am not alone! Thank you, Berry & Co.