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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Educator Variation

I know lots of educators, and like individuals in any profession, there is great variation.

There's variation in time. Some educators are socially driven young adults, others are very busy moms and dads, still more are financially challenged, and some are financially advantaged. There are educators who are excited to go to work every day and serve children, and there are educators who are very tired of the job. There's great variation and that variation even impacts individual teachers throughout their career as there are times when you are wholly invested in everything you do in school and times where the teaching takes a place in your overall life.

Educators also vary in experience, compensation, working conditions, support, and interest. Some educators are brand new while others have extensive experience. Some educators are paid well while others can't count on their salary to pay the bills for basic needs. There are schools where educators are well supported and schools where there isn't enough support, and then there are educators who are passionate about the field and others who see it as a 8-3 job.

While educators demonstrate tremendous variation, they are often discussed and treated as one as if we were all the same. That's a big mistake in education.

Instead, how can we recognize this tremendous variation and use it to the advantage of all? One way to do this is to re-look at education roles. Instead of lots of one-size-fits-all roles for educators, create more variation in roles. Perhaps add steps dependent on the amount of time a teacher wants to devote to the job. Right now most steps are associated with academic credits and experience, but instead there could be steps associated with the depth and breadth of education roles. Further, perhaps there could be circles of educators who want to do more that are well supported by systems and States with time and money. If there are teachers who want to impact the field, then perhaps there would be more avenues open to those teachers to lead their efforts in positive ways. The NEA Teacher Leadership Initiative is an example of such a program. It's a terrific program. The next step would be to build out these programs so that they are recognized in teachers' local systems and States. NBPTS certification is another example of this.

I talk to lots of teachers. Some are very invested in the field beyond the work they do with students and others are solely interested in the job only with regard to the children they teach or school they work in. How can the education field make note of this variation and use it not to judge but to maximize the work we do with and for children individually and collectively. This is a topic I want to think more about.