Reviving Teaching With 'Professional Capital'
The results of the latest MetLife Survey of the American Teacher confirm what many of us are experiencing and seeing in the depressing descent of the teaching profession. In the past two years, the percentage of teachers surveyed who reported being very satisfied in their jobs has declined sharply, from 59 percent to 44 percent. The number who indicated they were thinking of leaving the profession has jumped from 17 percent to 29 percent. Imagine being a student knowing that every other teacher you encounter is becoming less and less satisfied, and close to one in three would rather be somewhere else.
Without a strong and relentless focus on what we call "professional capital," U.S. policymakers will continue to miss lessons from other countries about how they produce teacher fulfillment and effectiveness, and to misread warning signs here at home as well. We have directly studied, worked with, and worked in other successful countries, and they do not adopt the strategies of rewarding or punishing individual teachers with measures like test-driven, performance-based pay, or concentrate their energies on the extremes of competence with gushing teacher-of-the-year ceremonies or gung-ho proposals to remove the bottom 5 percent of educators from classrooms.
The truth about the more successful countries, such as Finland, Singapore, and Canada, is that they develop the whole profession to the point where students encounter good teachers one after another. They attract and develop the professional capital of all their teachers, in all schools, day after...
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