Opinion
Teaching Profession Opinion

Doctor, Lawyer, Teacher

By Ronald A. Wolk — April 20, 2007 2 min read

Nearly 20 years ago, as we were preparing to launch this magazine, we talked to hundreds of teachers across the country about their careers and about their aspirations, concerns, and daily challenges. Our working title for the magazine was Professional Teacher, and we were determined not to treat teachers as tall children, but rather to address them as experts whose work is as important to society as that of doctors, lawyers, and other professionals. We would provide them with articles about teaching and learning, research, ideas, innovations, and the larger issues that shape education.

Ronald A. Wolk

Essentially, what teachers told us was that they weren’t treated as professionals. They didn’t feel adequately prepared for their challenges. They didn’t have much decisionmaking power outside the classroom, and had little control over their professional lives. Neither their working conditions nor their compensation were conducive to their work. But most relevant for us, they said they probably wouldn’t read our magazine because they had little time or energy for anything but the practical demands of the job.

Despite all that, we launched Teacher Magazine because we believed then, as we believe now, that teachers are the key to successful schools and students. None of the many reforms floated in the past two decades will improve schools without competent, committed teachers who are treated as professionals. There has been general agreement that the teaching career path needs to be radically changed. However, that is a daunting challenge that society seems unable or unwilling to meet.

But what if there were another way to make teaching more of a profession? Suppose teachers were in control of their own destiny, empowered to practice their craft like other professionals. Imagine that they could form partnerships, much as lawyers and doctors do, and make their services available under contract to “clients” (i.e., schools). They would hire an administrator to handle noninstructional matters, but teachers would make the educational decisions and would bring new teachers into the “firm,” evaluate them, decide on compensation, and—when necessary—discharge them.

That “imaginary” situation became a reality with the creation of EdVisions Cooperative 13 years ago, when a small group of teachers in Minnesota concluded that “a new model of ‘educational entrepreneurship’ was not only possible, but necessary.” They believed “that teacher leadership is not about power, but about mobilizing the largely untapped attributes of teachers to strengthen student performance by working collaboratively in a shared capacity.”

The founders’ goal was to empower teachers, but they recognized that teaching is not an end in itself. The ultimate goal is to help youngsters grow and learn. To “stay in business,” teacher partnerships must satisfy their clients. That means they must be at the leading edge of their profession, always looking for new, innovative methods.

EdVisions first offered its professional services to the Minnesota New Country School in 1994 and it has become a nationally recognized model for project-based learning. Today there are more than 30 EdVision schools across the country and nearly 2,500 students who are actively engaged, excited, and performing at high levels.

The EdVisions people are the kind of teachers we had in mind when we started this magazine. America desperately needs teachers like these, and we should do whatever is necessary to produce them.

Related Tags:

For more information about EdVisions, including a video on project-based learning that made Ron Wolk want to go back to school, visit EdVisions. Several relevant books are also cited on the Web site, including Teachers as Owners, edited by Edward J. Dirkswager and published by Scarecrow Press.
A version of this article appeared in the May 01, 2007 edition of Teacher as Doctor, Lawyer, Teacher

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

Superintendent, Coeur d'Alene Public Schools
Coeur D'Alene, Idaho
Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates
Director of Headstart
New Haven, CT, US
New Haven Public Schools
Director of Headstart
New Haven, CT, US
New Haven Public Schools
Supervising Behavior Analyst (BCBA)
Weston, Florida, United States
Camelot Education

Read Next

Teaching Profession Q&A Nation's Top Teachers Discuss the Post-Pandemic Future of the Profession
Despite the difficulties this school year brought, the four finalists for the National Teacher of the Year award say they're hopeful.
11 min read
National Teacher of the Year Finalists (clockwise from top left): Alejandro Diasgranados, Juliana Urtubey, John Arthur, Maureen Stover
National Teacher of the Year Finalists (clockwise from top left): Alejandro Diasgranados, Juliana Urtubey, John Arthur, Maureen Stover
Courtesy of CCSSO
Teaching Profession Teachers Are Stressed Out, and It's Causing Some to Quit
Stress, more so than low pay, is the main reason public school teachers quit. And COVID-19 has increased the pressure.
7 min read
Image of exit doors.
pavel_balanenko/iStock/Getty
Teaching Profession Opinion Should Teachers Be Prioritized for the COVID-19 Vaccine?
Not all states are moving teachers to the front of the vaccination line. Researchers discuss the implications for in-person learning.
6 min read
Teacher Lizbeth Osuna from Cooper Elementary receives the Moderna vaccine at a CPS vaccination site at Roberto Clemente High School in Chicago, Ill., Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021.
Chicago public school teacher Lizbeth Osuna receives the COVID-19 vaccine at a school vaccination site last week.
Anthony Vazquez/Chicago Sun-Times via AP
Teaching Profession Chicago Teachers Approve School Reopening Plan: ‘We Got What We Were Able to Take’
Chicago Teachers Union members have voted in favor of a reopening deal, signaling that in-person classes can resume Thursday as planned.
Hannah Leone & Katherine Rosenberg-Douglas
4 min read
Chicago Public Schools CEO Janice Jackson speaks during a news conference at City Hall in Chicago on Feb. 7, 2021. The Chicago Teachers Union has approved a deal with the nation’s third-largest school district to get students back to class during the coronavirus pandemic, union officials announced early Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021.
Chicago Public Schools CEO Janice Jackson speaks during a news conference at City Hall in Chicago on Feb. 7. The Chicago Teachers Union has approved a deal with the nation’s third-largest school district to get students back to class during the coronavirus pandemic.
Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune via AP