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Blaming Teachers: A Marketing Problem?

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Attending an education-policy conference recently, Cindi Rigsbee was amazed at the disconnect between what policymakers and academics say about teachers and the work that teachers actually do on a day-to-day basis. In her words: "It didn't take me long to realize that there are very bright folks who don't really know what's going on in our schools."

Part of the problem, she says, is that it's easier for big wigs to make blanket (negative) assumptions about teachers than to address other, perhaps more complex factors that influence students' academic performance. But Rigsbee also thinks that teachers do a poor job of marketing their professionalism and dedication - instead being given to (to use her examples) posting status updates on Facebook about spending long days at the pool and venting about work. She writes:

The teacher "venting" that occurs in our communities most likely indicates to others that we are not committed to doing whatever it takes to teach our children. It probably sounds like we're only committed to whining about how difficult our jobs are.
So teachers, it is up to us to change the thinking of legislators, higher ed representatives, and policymakers. It is up to us to market ourselves as professionals who can make a difference in the lives of children, instead of "bad teachers" who are uncomfortable with technology.


5 Comments

This is a novel way of looking at the problem. The best form of "marketing" would seem to be to let our teaching speak for itself. Teaching is harder than most people realize, but it is possible to help students achieve great things. I've started a blog to discuss this:

http://howtobeateacher.blogspot.com/

Up here in Canada, our federation (union) markets for us. Sometimes the hard-core union management puts up such a fuss over certain issues (especially during negotiations) that our own publicity/marketing is awkward and sometimes controversial.

The greatest problem that I see is the public seeing any marketing of this type as "spin". The disconnect between the ivory-tower types (with media budgets and the public bias on their side) and the parent with what is really happening in the school is a huge gap.

Let's see the ivory tower types, politicians and the average parent just make it through one week. My guess is that we'd all have a lot of changed perspective.

Unfortunately, Rob Ross, our teaching does speak for itself but not enough people are listening.

Couldn't agree more. Teachers are being blamed for just about everything that goes wrong in schools when the problem is so much more complex. See a similar take on the issue that I like:
http://thosewhocanteach.com/?p=104

I've taught in the general education classroom from elementary to middle school. I've taught in the special education self-contained classroom, elementary level, as well as in the inclusion program. I can present material and provide hands-on, discovery learning, but if the student is unwilling to put forth any effort to learn, and the home environment is not conducive to value education, then I am only spinning my wheels. Yet, as teachers, we will continue to spin because we chose this occupation out of the desire to pass on knowledge to another generation, and instill in them the curiosity for more. But, again, there must be effort and willingness to learn from the student, and oftentimes this is the key missing ingredient and the one area where we continue to lie awake at night for another way we can "connect" and "catch" this student in the net of unending knowledge. This is what the public misses in the news reports.

I have written a book about exactly what all of you are talking about.
Check out this book. It is about school systems, is interesting reading, has social significance, and proposes how to fix our schools. It is available through www.xlibris.com www.amazon.com, and www.bn.com book stores or by calling 888 795 4274. The web sites have detailed description. If you like it share it. I feel all educators should read it. This book presents a new cause and solution.It will help in the short runbut the big picture will take time.

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