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The Teaching Profession
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What I can do to strengthen and improve the teaching profession.

The most obvious steps I can take to improve the teaching profession are ones that give support and encouragement to other teachers. I have many years’ experience with technology and in addition to the technology education I’ve received, I have taught myself several computer applications. This expertise is something I have found I can and do share with my colleagues.

Another step I can take is to encourage more child/student-centered teaching and less adherence to “curriculum.” Some teachers cling to the notion that certain pieces of literature must be taught at certain grade levels, rather than assessing the students’ capabilities and starting with the most effective material for the students’ level of learning with assistance. As a result of this, I can and intend to give more presentations, write more articles and attend more professional development sessions.

Finally, I can solicit volunteers to assist in the educational process. Unless and until public schools are adequately funded, teachers are going to need volunteer assistance if we are to implement the strategies and techniques we know are effective. I can solicit volunteerism from parents, retirees, college students and corporations or businesses. These volunteers can serve as classroom assistants, tutors, chaperones and secretaries.

What should be the basis for accountability in the teaching profession?

Two areas of accountability are already successfully in place in the state of Texas: continuing education requirements and the PDAS evaluation system. The final area of accountability, assessment of student achievement, needs to be re-thought and redesigned.

Teachers must also be learners. Instructors can’t guide students to better learning if they have forgotten how to learn themselves. Consequently it is a teacher’s duty to expand her knowledge in order to better understand and guide her students. The accountability system for continuing education of teachers that is in place in Texas is adequate.

It is the responsibility of teachers to guide students to succeed within the social framework by following rules and adhering to general policies. The best way to do this is to model following rules and adhering to established policies in the classroom. The current PDAS evaluation system in Texas is sufficient to ensure teacher compliance in these areas.

The accountability issue that requires more in-depth thought and better design is student performance. Simply testing children in the third, eighth and eleventh grades provides no data on individual teacher performance since students generally have at least one different teacher at each grade level. Further, testing all students at one particular performance level provides no data as to the improvement under the individual teacher’s tutelage, since no baseline assessment is made to compare against the performance scores. If the test is administered in February, even if there were a baseline comparison, testing at this time of year would only allow for evaluation of progress made with a particular teacher for one semester.

The consequences of current testing do not serve to help individual schools and teachers achieve educational excellence – rather schools are denied the opportunity to improve because lowered ratings eventually mean fewer students, fewer students mean less funding and less funding does not translate into improved methods or outcomes.

Teachers should be held responsible for ensuring student achievement, however, these issues must be seriously addressed before a meaningful testing system can be designed and implemented.