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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