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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 comic books' underdogs that are doing our best, but just don't have the support of the town we are trying to save.

It's time to take control of the narrative. It's time to reveal what teachers truly do for our students. Let's change the tone in education conversations to emphasize educators as the solution instead of the problem.

So let's begin by creating a list of popular teaching myths, debunked:

Myth: Teaching is easy.
Reality: Teaching can be more complex than engineering. I read a great posting on Diane Ravitch's blog by a National Board-certified teacher who compared work as a rocket scientist to teaching. The similarity? Both are always looking for creative solutions. The difference? Teaching has constantly changing variables.

Myth: Teaching is just about getting students to pass their standardized tests.
Reality: Teaching is about sparking a love of learning. Education is so much larger than passing a standardized assessment. It is big. It is beautiful. It cannot always be measured by multiple-choice answers. When my students graduate from high school, I hope they think of me as the teacher who inspired them to be a better person and make a difference in the world, not just the teacher who helped them pass the 5th grade reading test.

Myth: Teaching is an 8:00 a.m.to 3 p.m. job.
Reality: Teaching is living and breathing your class. Every moment. Everyday. It means lesson planning at midnight and staying at school until 6 p.m. on a Friday evening. It's spending Saturday building levers for physical science, it's about having your whole family over to sort books for your classroom library. We are talking commitment, people. Not just from the teacher, but also involving the teacher's family and friends (just ask my sister or read my TransformEd blog about the first week of school).

Myth: Teaching only happens in the classroom.
Reality: So many teachers work tirelessly both in and out of the classroom. I am a part of a group of amazing teacher leaders called the New Millennium Initiative, working to create solutions to issues of education policy and practice. And this is just one example. Teachers lead professional development. Participate in committees. Work with the district and state. Teachers are educators in many arenas.

This list is just the beginning. What else should we add? And what can we do about these myths? Let's get the wheels turning ...

Megan M. Allen is a National Board-certified teacher in Tampa, Fla., where she serves as a teacherpreneur and teaches 5th graders.

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