Jan 29, 2012

The Teacherpeneur - Part Teacher / Part Everything Else

What if Arne Duncan taught in the morning?

Nothing will ever take away my respect for a teacher, especially a great teacher. But, it's undeniable that something is missing when one's leaves the classroom.


At the start of the school year, the administrative team collected all the math teachers into one room. We could tell they hoped to set a tone towards "progress in math." A valid goal, since CST math scores took a slide and grade distributions in math classes are appalling. I was actually excited. Finally, admin's eyes are open and they're committed to providing support.

But, as the weeks have turned into months have turned into an entire first semester - we've yet to see the type of support we hoped for.


I wonder how different it'd be if all our 5 administrators taught 2 periods a day before tackling their administrative duties. Would they feel the sense of urgency we feel as teachers? Would it be easier for them to find answers to the question "What's going on? Why are so many students failing?" if they had to strategize how to raise a failing student's performance in a classroom they're currently teaching?

I wonder how much more receptive our teachers would be when they share strategies "that work" if they had proof of it working in their OWN classrooms. My principal has said time-and-time again that he's a "hell of a damn good teacher" and wants to "coach." Well, the only we we'd all know how great of a teacher your are is if you taught.


This is not an attack on my administrative team. They're doing a fabulous job given the circumstances and are progressively improving. However, it is a challenge to the structure of our education "ladder." Why must our ed-policy writers, administrators, curriculum writers, and coaches leave the classroom to fulfill their duties. At the very core, it is great teachers that we need. Do we need to take great teachers away from the classroom?


I first heard of the term teacherpeneur through my colleague Dave Orphal and I am completely intrigued by the idea. If I am to take on a new role (like District Math Coach), I'd only do so if I'm allowed 2 to 3 periods a day where I am still a teacher.

He makes a great point: are we asking too much from our new teachers and not enough from our veterans? If so, how can that change?


Jen said...

I completely agree with you. I hate that we are expected to follow the "experts" words when those "experts" have not been in the classroom for 10-15 years. Even worse when they only taught for 3 years but we are following their plan for student and teacher improvement.

Dave Orphal said...

I want to add that the teacherpreneur concept goes both ways. All of the Admin who I respect ALL say that they miss teaching kids. They should be able to get a foot back into the classroom to remind them about what their admin job is supporting.

Additionally, an ed-reform guru worth her salt would jump at the chance to put her ideas to the test in a classroom part time.

By being teacherpreneurs, teachers can bring their valuable voices to ed-leadership, and leaders can stay grounded with a foot in the classroom.