Public Perception of Teachers

Public Perception of Teachers According to the recent Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup annual poll, "three of four Americans say they have trust and confidence in the men and women who teach children in the public schools"--a finding that's stayed steady for the past three years.

However, there's also been escalating negative rhetoric about teachers--or what president of the American Federation of Teachers Randi Weingarten has called the "demonization" of teachers--over the last few years, especially by politicians and other public figures.

As a teacher, how do you think the public perceives your profession? Does this affect your practice--and how? What could you and your colleagues do to alter public perceptions about your profession? Or, considering how many other responsibilities you have, should you leave that up to someone else? Ideally, how do you hope the public's view of teachers will change over the next 10 years?

Follow-up: 'Think Different' About Teaching

Alison Crowley In my first post, I defined teachers as experts. My approach to shifting the paradigm about the public perception of teaching is to consider what teacher leaders can do—and once again I am inspired by my own teaching swag. In my classroom is a series of posters with the slogan "Think Different" that highlights people who have thought differently, like Cesar Chavez and Amelia Earhart. Their purpose is to inspire my students, but maybe they can help us solve this issue as well. What if we could... 1) Think different ... about teacher preparation. If we truly believe...


Follow-Up: Making Teacher Voice Purposeful

Sarah Brown Wessling Each time I participate in a Teaching Ahead Roundtable discussion, I find myself digging deeper into the issues because of the way the conversations evolve. And it's usually when I'm in the midst of commenting on comments that I find some of my most interesting thinking unearthed. Here are three "ah-ha" moments I had throughout this week of thinking about teacher perception. 1. Everything is political. As I was responding to David Cohen's first piece, "Four Ways for Teachers to Engage", I was reminded me that everything we do is political. Saying or doing nothing at all ...


Follow-Up: Committing to Engagement

David B. Cohen In my last post, I offered four suggestions for teacher engagement that I believe would improve schools and learning and at the same time inform public perceptions of teachers. If you're inclined to boost your engagement now but you're unsure of where to start, here is a short follow-up list of engagement activities that I think are manageable, motivating, and productive. Invite guest speakers and visitors to your class. Over the years, my students have had visits and Skype conferences with a few authors, a publisher, a university professor, a physician, a social worker, a retired dentist, ...


Follow-Up: Becoming 'Pro-Education Launch Pads'

Megan M. Allen First of all, a big thank you to mbhirst for posing a great question and reframing our discussion. How can we launch the education of the public about education? We've debunked some myths ... but now what? Below are a few starters to get the conversational ball rolling. Let's begin a list of what educators can do to become "pro-education launch pads": Bring light to the "invisible work" that educators do, as suggested by Sarah Brown Wessling. To name a few examples—the professional learning and reading, the reflecting with peers, the advocacy, the data analysis. This work...


Follow-Up: Changing Tomorrow's Perceptions of Teachers Today

Sandy Merz In 10 years, the public perception of teachers will be held by the students we teach today. Students watch us, want to know about us, and want to know why we teach. To me, that means that how I represent the profession in my daily practice will greatly influence my students' future perception of teachers—even more than the media and our elected officials. Consider this: "Mr. Merz, do you like being a teacher?" "Do you like people telling you what to do?" "No!" "Have you ever seen my boss tell me what to do?" "No." "That's what...


Changing Perceptions for Future Teachers

Sarah Brown Wessling It was a declaration to remember. My 6-year-old daughter assertively walked into the kitchen after school one day: "Mom. I'm going to be a teacher. Not an English teacher like you, but a P.E. teacher like Mrs. Rocque. She's the best!" I smiled. Not a condescending, "that's nice dear" kind of reaction, but a beam that I felt in my toes. A kindred spirit in the making. And then I remembered my friend Ann. Her son had told her the same thing, once and she confessed cringing and hoping that he would make another choice. "There ...


Teaching Myths Debunked

Megan M. Allen News about the teaching profession is smattered all over the media right now with the strike in Chicago, discussions about depleting education funding, and the use of teacher evaluations to "get rid" of our bad teachers (in which we are clearly missing the point of evaluation). And that's not to mention a slew of "super" movies about "fixing" our profession, celebrating the latest silver-bullet theory or sainted educator. I want to believe that the public perception of teaching is positive, but I don't always feel it. I sometimes feel beaten down. My colleagues and I are the ...


Four Ways for Teachers to 'Engage'

David B. Cohen Polls show most Americans have favorable views of their children's schools and teachers, so how do we explain the amount of negativity in the nation's broader educational discourse? I think we're witnessing a collision of factors narrowing the storyline of American public education and educators. Economics, politics, and the media all have helped propel us toward what novelist Chimamanda Adichie calls "the danger of the single story." If American public schools and students are failing, as we hear repeatedly and without qualification, then America's teachers must be incompetent—even though we still approve of our local schools...


Teaching: A Work of Heart?

Alison Crowley "Teaching is a work of heart." That's what the small wooden heart says. Given to me by a student during my first year of teaching, this message was originally perched in the corner of a chalkboard. Now, 12 years later it is displayed next to a high-tech SmartBoard. Many aspects of education have changed over the past decade, but one thing has not: Teachers are not seen by the public as professionals. Much as I appreciate my student's gift, maybe it is messages like the one that is displayed in my classroom that have brought us here. Do ...


Teaching at 30,000 Feet

Sandy Merz Teaching is a unique profession. The public knows it and respects us, and you don't need a survey to confirm that respect. Just make a new friend, maybe on an airplane. It usually goes like this for me: "I'm a teacher." "Really? That's such important work. You all do so much. What grade?" "Eighth." "Oh my. Wow. What a tough group. I could barely handle my own kids at that age. I don't know how you do it but thank you." Chances are we'll discuss issues in education. She'll have strong opinions—informed and uninformed, compelling and mundane—about...


The opinions expressed in Teaching Ahead: A Roundtable are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

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About the Contributors

  • Jessica Shyu

    Jessica Shyu

    Jessica Shyu is vice president of teacher excellence and leadership at Teach For China where she leads teams to train and develop more than 300 fir...

  • David B. Cohen

    David B. Cohen

    David B. Cohen is associate director of Accomplished California Teachers, and a National Board-certified English teacher at Palo Alto High School (...

  • Patrick Ledesma

    Patrick Ledesma

    Patrick Ledesma is a middle school technology specialist and special education department chair with Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia. A N...

  • Marilyn Rhames

    Marilyn Rhames

    Marilyn Rhames is a middle grades teacher at a charter school in Chicago and runs a nonprofit called Teachers Who Pray. Her Ed Week blog called "Ch...

  • Larry Ferlazzo

    Larry Ferlazzo

    An award-winning English and Social Studies teacher at Luther Burbank High School in Sacramento, Calif., Larry Ferlazzo is the author of Helping St...

  • Lori Nazareno

    Lori Nazareno

    Lori Nazareno is a dually certified National Board Certified Teacher who is serving as teacher-in residence for the Center for Teaching Quality. A ...

  • Renee Moore

    Renee Moore

    Renee has taught English and journalism for 20 years in the Mississippi Delta region at both high school and community college levels. She is Natio...

  • Carrie Kamm

    Carrie Kamm

    Carrie Kamm is a mentor-resident coach with the Academy for Urban School Leadership's Chicago Teacher Residency Program. She is also a co-author o...

  • Dave Orphal

    Dave Orphal

    Dave Orphal is a teacher and small learning communities coordinator at Skyline High School in Oakland, Calif. In his free time, he serves as a mem...

  • Noah Zeichner

    Noah Zeichner

    Noah Zeichner is a National Board-certified teacher at Chief Sealth International School in Seattle, Wash. He also spends part of his day supportin...

  • Noah Patel

    Noah Patel

    Noah Patel is a 7th-year middle school math teacher in the Boston Public School District and a National Board-certified teacher. He received his ba...

  • Jessica Hahn

    Jessica Hahn

    Jessica Hahn has taught elementary grade children for six years in Phoenix and New York City. She has a master's degree in literacy from Teachers C...

  • Rebecca Schmidt

    Rebecca Schmidt

    Rebecca Schmidt is in her fifth year of teaching in D.C. Public Schools. She is team leader of the 3rd grade at Bancroft Elementary, and also runs ...

  • Bill Farmer

    Bill Farmer

    Bill Farmer has been teaching biology and chemistry for nine years at Evanston Township High School in Evanston, Ill. He is currently serving his t...

  • Ryan Kinser

    Ryan Kinser

    Ryan Kinser is a 2012-13 teacherpreneur at the Center for Teaching Quality. He divides his time between teaching English to sixth graders at Walker...

  • Dan Brown

    Dan Brown

    Dan Brown teaches high school English in Washington, D.C. He is the author of The Great Expectations School: A Rookie Year in the New Blackboard Ju...

  • Sarah Henchey

    Sarah Henchey

    Sarah Henchey is a National Board Certified Teacher and a 2012-13 Teacher in Residence at the Center for Teaching Quality. Sarah has taught middle ...

  • Marsha Ratzel

    Marsha Ratzel

    Marsha Ratzel is a National Board-certified teacher in the Blue Valley School District in Kansas, where she teaches middle school math and science....

  • Jessica Keigan

    Jessica Keigan

    As a teacherpreneur, Jessica divides her time evenly between teaching English at Horizon High School in Denver and supporting results-oriented effo...

  • Michael Moran

    Michael Moran

    Michael Moran is a former sixth grade teacher currently pursuing a Master of Public Administration degree at the University of Washington's Evans S...

  • Ryan Niman

    Ryan Niman

    Ryan Niman teaches English and Social Studies in the Edmonds School District north of Seattle, Washington. Ryan is a member of the Washington New M...

  • Megan Allen

    Megan Allen

    Megan M. Allen is a National Board-certified Teacher in Tampa, Fla. As a 2012-13 teacherpreneur, Megan spends half of her week teaching 5th graders...

  • Ilana Garon

    Ilana Garon

    Ilana Garon has been teaching high school English in the Bronx since she graduated from Barnard College in 2003. Her writing has appeared in The Gu...

  • Anna Martin

    Anna Martin

    Anna L. Martin is the resource teacher at Lee Mathson Middle School, a public school in an urban high-needs district in San Jose, Calif. A National...

  • Kate Mulcahy

    Kate Mulcahy

    Kate Mulcahy, a Boettcher Teachers Program graduate, has taught for five years as an English & English Language Learner teacher at Northglenn High ...

  • Ariel Sacks

    Ariel Sacks

    Ariel Sacks teaches 8th grade English at a middle school in Brooklyn, N.Y. An alumna of Bank Street College of Education, she is a co-author of TEA...

  • Linda Yaron

    Linda Yaron

    As an English teacher in an inner-city high school in Los Angeles, Linda Yaron has spent the last nine years working to increase opportunities for ...

  • Bill Ferriter

    Bill Ferriter

    Bill Ferriter (@plugusin on Twitter) carries about a dozen different titles around with him each day. He's a member of the Teacher Leaders Network,...

  • Robert Pronovost

    Robert Pronovost

    Robert Pronovost is a 2nd grade teacher and MOUSE Squad student tech advisor at Belle Haven Elementary in Menlo Park, CA. Robert has been a teacher...

  • Nancy S. Gardner

    Nancy S. Gardner

    A renewed National Board Certified Teacher, Nancy Gardner teaches senior English at Mooresville High School in Mooresville, N.C. She is also chair ...

  • Karl Ochsner

    Karl Ochsner

    Karl Ochsner is a 7th and 8th grade science teacher at Blessed Pope John XXIII Catholic School in Scottsdale, Arizona, and teaches classes on K-12 ...

  • Joel Malley

    Joel Malley

    Joel Malley teaches AP literature, along with mass media and film production, at Cheektowaga Central High School outside Buffalo, NY. He is an acti...

  • Jennie Magiera

    Jennie Magiera

    Jennie Magiera is a 4th and 5th grade math teacher and a technology and mathematics curriculum coach in Chicago Public Schools. A Teacher Leaders N...

  • Lauren Hill

    Lauren Hill

    Lauren Hill teaches AP Language and Composition and 9th grade English at Western Hills High School in Frankfort, Kentucky. A National Board Certif...

  • Todd Rackowitz

    Todd Rackowitz

    Todd Rackowitz has been teaching math for 21 years in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school system in North Carolina. A National Board-certified teacher...

  • Alison Wright

    Alison Wright

    Ali Wright teaches Algebra 2 and AP Calculus at Lafayette High School in Lexington, Ky. A National Board-certified teacher with 11 years of experie...

  • David Ruenzel

    David Ruenzel

    David Ruenzel is an English teacher at the Athenian School in Danville, Calif. From 1992-2001 he was a senior writer at Teacher Magazine and contri...

  • Bill Ivey

    Bill Ivey

    Bill Ivey teaches 7th grade Humanities, French, and music at Stoneleigh-Burnham School in Western Massachusetts. He is a member of the Teacher Lead...

  • Cheryl Suliteanu

    Cheryl Suliteanu

    Cheryl Suliteanu has taught elementary school students in Oceanside, Calif. for 15 years. She is a National Board-certified teacher with certificat...

  • José Vilson

    José Vilson

    Jos Vilson is a math teacher, coach, and data analyst for a middle school in the Inwood/Washington Heights neighborhood of New York. A poet, web d...

  • Jennifer Barnett

    Jennifer Barnett

    Jennifer Barnett is an English and social studies teacher and technology specialist in Talladega County, Ala. She is a co-author of Teaching 2030: ...

  • Delonna Halliday

    Delonna Halliday

    Delonna Halliday is a Literacy Coach at First Creek Middle School in Tacoma, Wash. She has a background in TV/movie production, spent a year teachi...

  • Meenoo Rami

    Meenoo Rami

    Meenoo Rami, founder of the #engchat weekly Twitter chat for English teachers, teaches her students English at Science Leadership Academy in Philad...

  • Sarah Brown Wessling

    Sarah Brown Wessling

    Sarah Brown Wessling is a high school English teacher at Johnston High School in Johnston, Iowa. She is also serving as TCHr Laureate for the Teac...

  • Paul Barnwell

    Paul Barnwell

    Paul Barnwell teaches English and digital media at Fern Creek Traditional High School in Louisville, Ky. In his spare time, he enjoys bow hunting, ...

  • Dedy Fauntleroy

    Dedy Fauntleroy

    Dedy Fauntleroy is an ELL instructional coach in Seattle Public Schools. In her previous life, she served as an ELD specialist, mentor teacher, and...

  • Shannon C'de Baca

    Shannon C'de Baca

    Shannon C'de Baca has been a science teacher for the last 34 years. She currently teaches a blended online chemistry course. Shannon has written le...

  • Mark Sass

    Mark Sass

    Mark Sass has been teaching high school social sciences for 16 years, for the past 12 years at Legacy High School in Broomfield, Colorado. Mark is ...

  • Brooke Peters

    Brooke Peters

    Brooke Peters has taught kindergarten and 1st grade in Los Angeles and New York City for 10 years. As co-founder of The Odyssey Initiative, Brooke ...

  • Lillie Marshall

    Lillie Marshall

    Lillie Marshall (@WorldLillie on Twitter) has been a teacher in the Boston Public Schools since 2003, and is passionate about creative forms of tea...

  • Jessica Cuthbertson

    Jessica Cuthbertson

    Jessica Cuthbertson, a Colorado educator with 10 years' experience, teaches middle school literacy and has served as a literacy instructional coach...

  • Justin Minkel

    Justin Minkel

    Justin Minkel teaches second and third grade in northwest Arkansas at Jones Elementary, where 97 percent of students live in poverty and 85 percent...

  • Jane Fung

    Jane Fung

    Jane Fung is a National Board-certified teacher in urban Los Angeles, where she currently teaches 1st grade. She serves on the board of the Nationa...

  • Sandy Merz

    Sandy Merz

    August (Sandy) Merz III, a National Board-certified teacher in Career and Technical Education, teaches engineering and algebra at Safford K-8 Inter...

  • Silvestre Arcos

    Silvestre Arcos

    Silvestre Arcos is the founding 5th grade math teacher at KIPP: Washington Heights Middle School in New York City. He studied human development and...

  • Matthew Holland

    Matthew Holland

    Matthew Holland is a native of Alexandria, Va., and a product of the city's public school system, where he is currently an elementary school teache...

  • Jody Passanisi

    Jody Passanisi

    Jody Passanisi is a middle school teacher at an independent school in the Los Angeles area and a clinical educator for DeLeT's teacher induction pr...

  • Bud Hunt

    Bud Hunt

    Bud Hunt is an instructional technology coordinator for the St. Vrain Valley Schools in northern Colorado. He works with teachers and technologists...

  • Elizabeth Duffey

    Elizabeth Duffey

    After 37 years as a high school English teacher, Elizabeth Duffey took a position as facilitator of instruction in literacy in the Tacoma Public Sc...

  • Lhisa Almashy

    Lhisa Almashy

    Lhisa Almashy is an ESOL teacher at Park Vista High School in Lake Worth, Fla. A 2012 winner of Teaching Tolerance's Cultural Responsive Teaching A...

  • Darnell Fine

    Darnell Fine

    Darnell Fine is a multicultural educator who facilitates creative writing and education seminars, as well as social justice workshops, across the c...

  • Ben Curran

    Ben Curran

    Ben Curran is a K-5 instructional coach at a charter school in Detroit. He is also co-founder of Engaging Educators, co-author of Learning in the 2...

  • Jennifer Martin

    Jennifer Martin

    Jennifer Martin is an English teacher at Wootton High School in Rockville, Md. During her 12 years in the classroom, Jennifer has taught nearly eve...

  • Casie Jones

    Casie Jones

    Casie Jones is an English teacher at Martin Luther King Jr. Student Transition Academy in Memphis. She is a Teach Plus Teaching Policy Fellow and a...

  • Ryan Prosser

    Ryan Prosser

    Ryan Prosser is an National Board-certified teacher in early adolescent english language arts and currently works as an instructional facilitator i...

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    Rod Powell

    Rod Powell, a National Board-certified teacher (social studies), has been teaching for 26 years. A CTQ Collaboratory member, Rod loves the challeng...

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    Pernille Ripp (@PernilleRipp) is a 5th grade teacher in Wisconsin, a proud techy geek, creator of the GlobalRead Aloud Project, co-founder of EdCam...

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    Elizabeth Stein

    Elizabeth Stein has been teaching more than 20 years and is currently a middle school special education teacher and mentor-teacher program coordina...

  • Brianna Crowley

    Brianna Crowley

    Brianna Crowley teaches high school English in Hershey, Pa. She also serves an instructional-technology coach to implement her district's BYOD poli...

  • Julie Hiltz

    Julie Hiltz

    Julie Hiltz is a 2013-2014 CTQ teacherpreneur who helps Florida teachers personalize their leadership roles and works as an educational-media speci...

  • Carl Finer

    Carl Finer

    Carl Finer has taught in South Los Angeles for ten years, currently teaching English and journalism at Animo Jefferson Charter Middle School. He is...

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    Margit Timakov

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    Meredith Kohl

    Meredith Kohl is special projects manager for Project Tomorrow and lower elementary education director for Bridges Reading and Writing Institute, b...

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