Thursday, February 24, 2011
If Teaching Is Their Calling They Will Weather The Storm
I was one of the lucky ones. I would get laid off on Monday only to find I had my job back by Tuesday. My school was not a very good one and we had lots of Title I money that kept remedial programs going. Math teachers, even in schools without these funds fared better and many spent the first years of their careers moving from school to school before earning enough years to guarantee them a job in the same place. Teachers in other subjects were not so fortunate. Many ended up changing careers. The ones I know ended up going into fields that were much more lucrative and did much better financially than they would have done had they stayed in teaching. Others weathered the bad years and returned to education when things got better.
I became a teacher the traditional way, majored in math and minored in education. I followed the full route, taking the meaningless education courses and the meaningful methods and student teaching classes. But, the most important things I learned about teaching were the things I learned from the experienced teachers in my school. They were the ones who taught me how to deal with students I never knew existed, the ones with the guns and the criminal records. They taught me the most efficient way to write an exam. They shared lessons. They helped me cope with a devil supervisor. In other words, they gave me the survivor skills every teacher needs. And now, there is a call to end "LIFO", to get rid of these experienced teachers so the newbies can keep their jobs. The claim, of course will be that these experienced teachers are not effective but who's to say if they are or not? Some vindictive principal with an axe to grind? Some administrator who wants to save some money? A person in power who wants to free up a teaching spot for his niece?
Any young person who truly wants to remain a teacher will do so. They might be out of the classroom for a year or so, but if the desire is will, there will be nothing to keep them from returning to a school when things get better. Ending "LIFO" is not only bad for the long term teachers, it's bad for children as well. Without experience, who will be around to teach the teachers what they need to know?