Successful teacher conferences need many key ingredients. Great presentations, quality exhibits, and good coffee! This morning while waiting in the coffee line at the SCAMLE Conference, I found myself drawn to the different conversations around me. Every single person in line was an educator. Every single person was discussing something related to their jobs.
- Professional Development. Teachers need professional development. Education grows and changes almost yearly it seems so it makes sense that teachers need to grow and change as well. What doesn’t make sense is the need to get more professional development as a means to “get out of the classroom.” If all teachers are trying to get out of the classroom, what does that say about education today? It seems as though many teachers are trying to grow not as teachers, but as specialists and administrators and coordinators. Why? So they can leave the classroom and do something else. There is something not right here. Teachers use to LOVE to teach. Now it seems like that isn’t always the case. Why? See my next point.
- Data. I was in line for coffee for 30 minutes. It was an early morning and a long line. The two teachers in front of me discussed methods of data collection and analysis for all 30 minutes. Assess this, track this, group by this… What about the kids? What about the instruction? Teaching used to be about helping our students grow. Not tracking their data and grouping them by race, socioeconomic status and gender. What about the kid who didn’t pass the mandated test but has greatly improved their behavior this year. The kid who didn’t pass the test but has completely 100% of his homework this year as opposed to 15% last year. That is the data that should matter, yet that is the data that isn’t measured.
- Salary. Insert sigh here. Chances are, if you are currently in education, your salary has been frozen at some point. This is SUCH an issue for teachers everywhere and unfortunately, an issue that doesn’t look to have a solution coming soon. One teacher was talking about her change from an administration role to a specialist role. This change resulted in a lower salary for her (despite having the same degrees). She LOVES what she’s doing now but the pay cut has hurt her family. Her husband, also a teacher, works a part time job FIVE NIGHTS a week after teaching to help supplement the pay cut she took when she left administration. She’s considering going back into a position she didn’t love because of the money. It’s a shame to hear someone consider leaving a job they love because it isn’t financially benefitting their family.
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