Monday, August 22, 2011

"Thank you for treating us like professionals"

This week I had the pleasure of working with San Luis Coastal Unified School District math teachers.  My colleagues Linda Patton, Marian Robbins, and Elsa Medina did a fantastic job of running sessions specially designed for K-12 math teachers.  The teachers were inspired to think, to problem solve, to work together, and to think of ways to get their students to do some real mathematics.  It was a great 3-day workshop, and I am looking forward to the follow-up days in the coming year.

On the last day of the workshop, one of the teachers said, "Thank you for treating us like professionals."  The teachers were kind, energetic, wonderful to work with, and highly appreciative of the support we provided.  They accomplished a great amount in a short time.  But this workshop experience, where teachers feel like professionals and are treated as such, is not the norm.  It is a strange thing that such a circumstance could even exist in the U.S.  The fact that society has evolved to make teachers feel marginalized, despite their importance to society and our future, is astonishing.

In future posts, I'll dive into some of the ideas of why this issue is really a signal for a larger set of problems in education reform.  That is, how society treats, supports, and values teachers in society leads to key insights.

For college faculty, what all this probably means is that the (relatively) easy part of the whole enterprise is to teach future teachers the math (or fill-in your subject).