Academic journal article The American Biology Teacher

Installing Professionalism

Academic journal article The American Biology Teacher

Installing Professionalism

Article excerpt

In addition to being a professor of biology at a community college, I am also president of my local school board. Of course, as school board president, I hear from many people in my community regarding concerns they have about our district. Recently I was approached by several parents regarding what they perceived as a lack of dedication on the part of several teachers. The parents had observed these teachers arriving late on multiple occasions. They wanted to know how the teachers could be doing a good job when they didn't even care enough to arrive early and prepare for the day's activities. They went on to state that teachers have an easy job. Teachers arrive at work at 8:00 am and leave at 3:00 pm every day. Teachers get every holiday off, in addition to working only half a day when there are institute days. Teachers even get paid to have the entire summer off! No wonder education in this country is in such bad shape.

Of course, as an educator, I was upset with these parents who didn't have the slightest idea of what was involved in quality teaching. But I also had to remind myself that I did not personally know the teachers they were referring to. I could only speak to my own sense of dedication and professionalism.

This interaction caused me to reflect on teaching as a profession. Obviously these parents felt that teaching was merely a job and a part-time one at that. Unfortunately, many other individuals in other communities across the nation share these same feelings about teaching. Why is teaching considered more of a job than a profession?

Being professional means being dedicated to your professional development, both for yourself and for the students you teach. It means being competent and skillful, but it also means behaving in an ethical way. It means putting your students first, and acting in their best interests.

In college, my professors encouraged me to join professional organizations. They instilled in me the importance for an educator to see himself or herself as a professional who was part of a larger network of educators. …

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