Discussion: What Are Teachers Responsible For?

Discussion: What Are Teachers Responsible For?

by TeachThought Staff

The processes of teaching and learning are an ongoing negotiation between teacher, student, and content. As a culture, we are in the habit of creating expectations for teachers and not students because they’re adults and professionals and that’s the way the world works.

We create expectations for the performance of a given curriculum, technology, program, schedule-change—we ‘expect’ something in each case, and are often ruthless in our evaluations of whether or not those expectations were met. Last week, we asked what students are responsible for. This week, we turn our attention to you, the teachers.

Discussion: What Are Teachers Responsible For?

Teachers, more urgently than ever, have their feet held to their fire. They are pressed for ‘results.’ They are trained and ‘developed’ and monitored and observed and mentored and evaluated. They are pushed—hard—to move the needle (often while simultaneously motivated by their own internal desire to often shield students from these kinds of efforts and do what’s ‘best for the kids’).

So let’s say we accept those pressures—and the actuating mechanisms of each. What about the plants? (The kids.) What are they ‘accountable’ for? (We discussed this last week.)

It may sound like I’m implying that students have been let off the hook in the ongoing debate for education reform (or ideally, education evolution/revolution), but I’m not. I’m genuinely curious what ‘we’ believe as a profession and only value that belief insofar as it affects teaching as a profession dedicated to changing the lives of students. Instead of a statement of opinion, I’m instead wondering out loud what you believe.

This is a question meant create some kind of discussion. How you respond (in the comments below, social media, email, etc.) will depend hugely on your personal philosophy as a teacher—the expectations and beliefs you bring to your craft. This means that there will never be agreement, and that’s fine.

(That there is intense pressure at all is unfortunate, and that may be the most critical takeaway here. While education is long overdue for significant change, pressure for teachers to ‘extract’ ‘results’ from students on tests isn’t close to our best thinking.)

So this week’s discussion prompt is focused on this idea–and this is not just about ‘accountability’ but rather transparency. What is ‘our job’? Do principals and parents see it that way? Is disagreement here okay or an indicator for better communication and ‘marketing’ of teaching to the world at large?

Discussion: What Are Teachers Responsible For?

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