Transforming the Teaching Profession in 12 Minutes

In this post listed in the Teacher Quality section of the top-rated education blog The Quick and the Ed, Elena Silva overviews a number of 12-minute talks given at the recent Education Writers Association conference that discuss the state of the K-12 end of the profession. The results may not be entirely unexpected, but taken together they help to cast light upon the kinds of interventions that might help to support teachers in their vital work — that is, given who they are and what they believe about their working conditions. — Kelly Searsmith

Elena Silva / The Quick and the Ed /23 May 2012

Last Friday I had the privilege of talking about the future of the teaching profession alongside an amazing cast of teachers, leaders, researchers, and policy folks at EWA’s annual conference in Philadelphia. The TED-type format–12 minutes for each of us– was fun and different from the regular panels (kudos to Greg Toppo who was a great MC). And it gave me the chance to walk on stage to Fishbone, which is a bucket list item I never knew I had. I presented some results from our new yet-to-be-released survey of teachers. But before I get to that, some highlights of a few of the impressive 12-minute talks that came before me:

SASS-master Richard Ingersoll, at home on the UPenn campus, shared some demographic stats about teachers. That image you have of the young inexperienced female schoolteacher?  It’s right on. The workforce is greening instead of graying and is increasingly female. University of Michigan’s Deborah Ball opened with a slide of an airplane cockpit, asking how we’d feel if the pilot announced before take-off that this was her first flight but that she had always loved airplanes, had done pretty well in physics in college, and was really excited to fly a real plane for the first time. That’s what we’re doing in education, she said, when we stick a classroom full of students in the hands of an inexperienced teacher who may be enthusiastic but is just as likely to crash and burn as she is to succeed with those kids. Ted Mitchell said today’s schools were more like battleships that we expect will fly, which explains why New Schools is all about fresh ideas and is less enthusiastic about putting wings on big old clunky ones.

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