“Career”—the theme for this issue—derives from a word meaning racecourse. If you keep the manic schedule common to most teacher-leaders, that etymology won’t surprise you. From the morning’s first fumblings at the coffee machine till the minute you pass out at night, you’re in a mad dash to get everything done: Class prep. Homework grading. IEPs. Testing, testing, one two three.
No wonder that, according to new federal statistics, teachers are leaving the field at an increasing rate. The reason? Take a guess: Lack of autonomy? Crushing workloads? Absence of professional prestige? All of the above? Bingo.
Teacher Magazine chairman and founding editor Ronald A. Wolk reminds us in his column that it doesn’t have to be this way: Entrepreneurial teachers at charter schools across the country have formed partnerships similar to law practices. Under their contract with a school board, a co-op of teachers hires an administrator or two and gets to work teaching students—as independent professionals.
This kind of arrangement (imagine writing up your principal’s performance review) may not be on your immediate professional horizon yet. But few teachers at traditionally structured schools really seem to think the status quo is the ideal way to teach and learn.
So as you head into your summer “break” (if you have one at all, that is), find time amid your professional-development and other obligations to reflect on the other root meaning of “career”: road. Not the yellow brick sort, or a four-lane interstate, but the kind you have to create as you go, one foot after the other.
Enjoy the trip.
—Scott J. Cech, Executive Editor
A version of this article appeared in the May 01, 2007 edition of Teacher