Article Reactions, Volume 1

PBS has a great education series, MindShift that pops up on my Facebook. The articles always interest me, make me think, and probably most importantly, question what they have presented. I can’t address every question because this will suddenly take on book form so I will address my top four reactions.

The article that I read today was called, 7 Questions Principals Should Ask When Hiring Future-Ready Teachers.

Right off the bat, “What is a future-ready teacher?” To be honest, I’m not sure. Does education as a field have an answer to that question?

I suppose the simplest answer is that future-ready will be different for every school because every school serves a different population. The future in the town that I grew up is very different from the town I live in now.

In the area I grew up they are struggling with higher than normal unemployment rates, a lack of industry, and quite frankly, a fear of the 21st century. The principals might ask these questions but they will definitely not fit the character of the school or the community at this point.

On the other hand, the suburb I live in now has a state-of-the-art school district. These questions could all be legitimate questions asked for hiring purposes and stock answers would not be appropriate.

“How do you manage your own professional growth?”

My immediate reaction is that most teachers can’t manage their own professional growth because they can’t afford to. Many schools do not provide for outside professional development. As a new teacher I could not have afforded to take the professional development that interested me the most and probably would have benefitted my students and colleagues the most.

I really enjoyed AP training but that was $700 and required me to stay in a hotel for week (an additional $500). It was not cheap and if the school had not paid for it I would not have had that experience. This question is almost insulting unless the school provides money for professional development.

My husband is a lawyer (not a fair comparison, I know) but his firm pays for his professional development. I hate when people say, “That’s the difference between the private market and government jobs,” because those are almost always the same people who want to fire bad teachers.

If schools want the best teachers, they need to pay for high quality professional development

“What does your global network look like?”

My high school had a very strict technology policy and I could barely use Google let alone an international reaching app to expose my students to other classrooms.

I don’t want to sound like I am not in favor of technology in the classroom but the articles example of a first-grade classroom Twitter account didn’t sit well with me. I would not allow my child to post their work or interact with Twitter. I am very protective of my children’s digital profile and I do not want them creating one away from me.

Yes, I am aware it was one account controlled by the teacher but that still didn’t make me feel better. I barely put pictures of my children on my Facebook account and I have 31 friends because I am concerned with their overexposure.

“How do you teach students to manage their own learning?”

This question should be asked in every school and should be a priority from the beginning of their school careers. However, do students have time to manage their own learning? Do we have time to teach them how to manage their own learning?

The article pointed out how children learn to play videogames. They watch tutorials or they use trial and error. Both options require time. Can we as educators afford to give students ten minutes to figure something out? 20 minutes? What about schools that only have 20-minute class periods? (Yes, they exist).

I think this might be the best question the article pointed out and it yields the most important questions in response. In an era of teaching that requires so much testing and so much test prep I would be surprised if teachers could afford to teach management.

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