As a member of the teaching profession going on 24 years, a recurring theme threads through all the meetings and staff development sessions I’ve attended. Everybody wants teachers to work harder. The government, the school district, the administrators, the parents. Probably the only group who doesn’t cry out for more from teachers are the students.
Yet few of these folks who expect more feel the need to balance such talk with incentives. Teachers know that in order to get students to do work, kids need to be motivated either via grades or making them see the relevance of their task. The same concept is nowhere to be found in teaching. The reason why teachers should work harder and harder each year is because they love the kids. Sometimes that rationale is overtly stated, often though it hangs in the air. Few other occupations expect their employees to be good-hearted Samaritans, offering them little else in terms of money, benefits, or even pats on the back.
And that is just one reason why so little has changed in teaching and public education. Much good work does happen in our classrooms each day. Imagine what could be if teachers were properly valued.
BRIAN CROSBY is a teacher in the Glendale Unified School District and the author of "Smart Kids, Bad Schools and The $100,000 Teacher." He can be reached at brian-crosby.com.