I don’t think people realize how much education, training, and tests are involved in a person becoming a teacher. In California, students are required to obtain a bachelor’s degree. I got my degree in Liberal Arts. I understand the need to complete one year of student teaching (half of the year in a lower grade and the other half in a upper grade). It’s like an unpaid internship, where you first observe the teacher then you gradually take over the class under the master teacher’s supervision. You then have to pass several tests (CBEST, CSET, RICA) because your degree and the student teaching is not sufficient.
You would think that after all of the education, training and testing that are required to become a teacher we would be treated and compensated as professionals. Sadly, teachers are not paid anywhere near what some college graduates are paid right out of college. According to the Economic Policy Institute, teachers make about 20% less than other college-educated workers with similar experience.
It’s not just about the salary. Teachers are still evaluated every 2-3 years. This requires administration to observe and evaluate a teacher on how a lesson is presented, implemented and engages the student. In my opinion, these evaluations haven’t made me a better teacher. They just created more work and stress to plan for even more lessons and be judged on your teaching skills.
People that have no experience in the classroom or haven’t taught in years are the decision makers for what to teach and how to teach. They haven’t taken the time to ask and learn about the challenges teachers face on a daily basis. They are clueless to the obstacles teachers have to chip away at every single day in order engage and motivate students to learn.
Teachers need to be treated as the professionals that they are and given the respect, trust and confidence they deserve. Teachers are trained and educated people that can do their job without being scrutinized for not teaching the new fad of the year. Teachers know their students the best, but administration question the teachers’ expertise and knowledge. It’s no wonder teachers feel demoralized, disrespected, and deflated.
Do I think teachers will ever be awarded with a salary that compensates everything they do, be respected by parents and administrators, be treated as professionals that can teach without being bombarded with meaningless trainings, testing, and curriculum that don’t benefit the students and set them up for failure? Sadly, I don’t see this happening anytime soon. For the sake of the teaching profession and the students being taught, I hope there’s a brighter future ahead that will bring back the spark and joy of teaching and the reignite the passion in teaching that has been dimmed by all the overseers.
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