There are a large number of teachers in our (U.S.) classrooms today who are around my age, fifty something. In the last half of our careers we have witnessed astounding changes in the very nature of information, and these changes are only accelerating. So here’s the math.
- Thirty year teachers
- Teaching 6 to 18 year old children
- Preparing them in a time of rapid change for a future of accelerating change
- Where they’ll change jobs 10.2 times between the ages of 18 and 38 (Number of Jobs Held)
OK, I’m still figuring on this, but does this scan? Does it scan that teachers, who we encourage to make their profession a 30-year career, are preparing children in a time of rapid change to prosper in a time of rapid change? If we could just factor in ongoing, casual, professional development and make it an explicit part of the definition of being a teacher and give teachers the time to pay attention and adapt, then the numbers I’m grappling for may cancel each other out.
He goes on to suggest:
Every fifth year, all teachers take a paid sabbatical. They can take on an internship related to what they teach for that year. ..Or they can propose a project to produce some significant advancement of the practice (a new textbook, new type of textbook, significant research, instructional materials, etc.). The result would be that after every five years, teachers would re-enter their classroom re-connected to the world that we are preparing our children for.
I don't have a lot to add to this, just wanted to share with the group. But I think it's an interesting point. How can teachers - who typically do stay in the profession for a very long time (at least compared to other folks) - keep themselves current and passionate and relevant? Obviously, I think on-going staff development is one way to go (hence this project we're all involved in), but even that is something of an "echo chamber." We're talking and listening to each other - and our students - which is a very good thing, but how much exposure do we have to ideas outside of education? As a teacher, I've always wanted a chance to "intern" with various businesses to see what was going on in the so-called "real world." But outside of a few special programs that you have to apply for, I haven't run across anything. I think we run a real risk of becoming the K-12 equivalent of the "ivory tower."
I really like David's suggestion of a periodic sabbatical, but that seems a little unrealistic (even to me - proposer of bold ideas). I think the district finally looking at staff development issues in relation to the calendar is a good thing, but I think the restrictions they've put on it might doom it to failure. They need to think a little more outside of the box. If this is worth doing, then it's worth doing right - not restricting it to early release or late start which have a whole host of problems. So, anybody have some bold ideas of how we could make on-going staff development a reality in LPS?
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