In my posts I talk a great deal about education reform and the obvious question is: what are the implications for teachers? I also talk a lot about how learning in the future will leverage technology to allow learners to become more self-directed. Does this mean that teachers will someday become irrelevant? Absolutely not. Some years ago I read a study that said that the best managers during an organizational re-design were the same ones who were effective in the old system. I believe that this will be true for teachers as well. What makes them effective has little to do with the job description and more to do with them. Good teachers, like good leaders, will be relevant in any era, and able to adapt to the future. In fact, they will be pivotal in creating the future.
My definition of professionalism is: anyone whose ethical creed trumps institutional strictures. Physicians espouse “do no harm,” and lawyers make a pledge to the law. Unfortunately our institutions don’t always support our ethics. We all know doctors who have harmed and lawyers who, well, you know. There are all sorts of financial and social pressures to violate what we know to be right. That’s no different for teachers. Living with a star special ed. teacher for 15 years I realized that the good ones worked two jobs: 1. to accomplish the objectives mandated by the state/board/ect. 2. and to do right by the kids. Unfortunately, these are both full-time jobs and are often at odds with each other. It’s no wonder that good teachers burn out: some becoming ineffective and others just leaving, unable to cope with the ever increasing mountain of their second job (their moral contract as professionals) as society pushes more and more of it’s problems on to schools.
For the LD kid, given the current system, having teachers who sacrifice to do both jobs is essential. That’s why so many LD kids get left behind. LD kids depend on teachers to tap into their unique qualities as learners (that most school structures don’t accomidate) and to act as their advocate to anyone who will listen. And it’s that second job that makes all the difference for the LD person. The key for education reform is to ensure that both jobs are compatible with each other and can be integrated into one job.