Opinion
School & District Management Opinion

Follow-Up: Changing Tomorrow’s Perceptions of Teachers Today

September 25, 2012 1 min read

Sandy Merz

In 10 years, the public perception of teachers will be held by the students we teach today.

Students watch us, want to know about us, and want to know why we teach.

To me, that means that how I represent the profession in my daily practice will greatly influence my students’ future perception of teachers—even more than the media and our elected officials.

Consider this:

Mr. Merz, do you like being a teacher?" "Do you like people telling you what to do?" "No!" "Have you ever seen my boss tell me what to do?" "No." "That's what I like about being a teacher: As long as I do what I'm supposed to, I get to do things the way I want."

This embarrassing exchange suggests two things have never been true: 1) That I aim low—as long as I don’t bother my boss, she won’t bother me; and 2) That I’m a functionary with no role to fill beyond my classroom walls.

In the future I’ll reply more appropriately, something like:

I love all the challenges that teachers face—keeping up with new developments in my subject, finding creative ways to make difficult materials accessible, learning how to meet the different needs of each student, and working with colleagues from around the country to improve the profession—I can't imagine work I'd rather do."

Yet this is reactive. How can we proactively use good instruction to reveal all that it is to be a teacher?

We face a paradox. Just as expert athletes make it look so easy, so do expert teachers. Only by trying a new sport do you realize all the technique that must be mastered. Then you have a new appreciation when you watch the pros.

So, one concrete way to reveal the complexities of our craft, while authentically teaching the content of our subjects, would be to let a class participate in planning a unit. Together we would delve deeply into our content while discovering the need to create a plan that addresses learning styles, scaffolding, prior knowledge, outcomes, benchmarks, assessments, and so forth.

It’s a small step, but if done well, students may gain a peek into what we do daily and a new appreciation of teaching that would last far beyond 10 years.

August (Sandy) Merz III, a National Board-certified teacher, teaches engineering and algebra and sponsors MESA at Safford K-8 International Baccalaureate Candidate School in Tucson, Ariz.

Related Tags:

The opinions expressed in Teaching Ahead: A Roundtable are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Professional Development Webinar
Building Leadership Excellence Through Instructional Coaching
Join this webinar for a discussion on instructional coaching and ways you can link your implement or build on your program.
Content provided by Whetstone Education/SchoolMint
Teaching Webinar Tips for Better Hybrid Learning: Ask the Experts What Works
Register and ask your questions about hybrid learning to our expert panel.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Families & the Community Webinar
Family Engagement for Student Success With Dr. Karen Mapp
Register for this free webinar to learn how to empower and engage families for student success featuring Karen L. Mapp.
Content provided by Panorama Education & PowerMyLearning

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Coordinator of Strategic Partnerships
Camden, New Jersey, United States
Camelot Education
Senior Director Marketing
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Camelot Education
Training Specialist -- Little Leaves Behavioral Services
Weston, Florida, United States
Camelot Education
Superintendent, Mount Pleasant CSD
Thornwood, New York
Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates

Read Next

School & District Management Most Principals, District Leaders Predict Their Schools Will Be Fully In-Person This Fall
EdWeek Research Center surveys track the growing trend to get more students back in school buildings as soon as possible.
5 min read
Assistant Principal Janette Van Gelderen, left, welcomes students at Newhall Elementary in Santa Clarita, Calif on Feb. 25, 2021. California's public schools could get $6.6 billion from the state Legislature if they return to in-person instruction by the end of March, according to a new agreement announced Monday, March 1, 2021, between Gov. Gavin Newsom and the state's legislative leaders.
Assistant Principal Janette Van Gelderen, left, welcomes students at Newhall Elementary in Santa Clarita, Calif., last month. California's public schools could get $6.6 billion from the state if they return to in-person instruction by the end of March.
Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP
School & District Management Opinion Will the Hybrid School Concept Continue After COVID-19?
In an effort to move from triage to transformation, schools should look at how they continue the hybrid model after the COVID-19 vaccine.
7 min read
Hybrid FCG
Shutterstock
School & District Management New York City's Equity-Minded Schools Chief Resigns
Richard A. Carranza, the chancellor of the New York City schools, announced Feb. 26 he will step down from the job next month.
4 min read
Richard Carranza, Chancellor of the New York City Department of Education, arrives to Public School 188 The Island School as students arrive for in-person classes, on, Sept. 29, 2020, in the Manhattan borough of New York.
Richard A. Carranza announced he will depart the top New York City schools job in March.
John Minchillo/AP
School & District Management Opinion New Resource Tracks School System Reopening
The Return to Learn Tracker identifies the current instructional model of all regular public school districts with three or more schools.
5 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty