Professional Development

Teaching Profession Missing Key Structures, Expert Teachers Say

By Stephen Sawchuk — October 04, 2013 1 min read
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The teaching profession is missing some key structures that would help better support educators in their careers and prevent them from leaving their jobs, argue some of the nation’s top teachers in a paper released today.

The paper is the first work product of the recently rebranded National Network of State Teachers of the Year, which is putting itself forward as a group of expert teachers who can provide teachers’ insights into shaping policies for them.

Among the things the expert teachers say are missing:

  • Opportunities for career growth that don’t require them to leave the classroom;
  • Actionable feedback on performance, even with some of the new evaluation systems coming online;
  • Distributed leadership that give teachers the ability to mentor, coach, and evaluate peers and contribute to decisionmaking;
  • Guiding principles for the profession developed by teachers (since, in their absense, teachers are overwhelmed with pedagogical standards, content standards, evaluation rubrics, and so on);
  • Time in schools for collaborative practice.

The paper is accompanied by vignettes from several of the teachers detailing their challenges with the profession’s current structures. While most of these issues have been presented in other forums, it’s illuminating to hear about them from some of the country’s best teachers.

I’ll leave you with one final thought: Some of the challenges indentified exist within a heavily regulated area, the product of a mix of state rules, salary structures, bargaining units, contracts, and so on. They are not necessarily easy to fix, and even some proposals that try to address them, like peer-review programs, have bumped up against those realities. Changing them will take some time; we’ll have to wait to see what NNSTOY comes up with to help with that process.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Teacher Beat blog.