The Real Mr. Fitz: When Teachers Are Temps                                                  

When Teachers Are Temps

It occurred to me today as I looked around my classroom-- what would my room look like if I thought I might get fired any time during the next five years due to low test scores? Would it make me more committed to my profession, or view it as temporary work? Would it make me think about the long haul, about investing in my school and in my own professional development, or would it make me think only about test scores and keeping my job.

I painted my room two tones of blue with a sponge roller a few years back. It's quite striking, if I do say so myself. It creates a neat environment. If I thought of myself as a temp worker, it would still be beige.

I have a tall library shelf in my room brimming with paperback and hardcover books for my students to read. I have purchased them with my own money from the Scholastic Warehouse and library books sales. If I were uncertain of my future in teaching, that shelf would probably be empty. No-- I would never have asked for that shelf to be put in my room in the first place.

I have crate of copies of Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury that I purchased with teacher lead money from the state (for once, a good idea) and with, again, my own money. I bought them because I believe that the book is important and will help my students grow as writers. Would I have bothered if I thought of myself as a commissioned employee whose main task is to boost test scores?

I have another shelf full of professional books, reference books, and teacher resource books. Again, virtually all of them I purchased myself because I considered myself a professional-- in for the long haul. Would I have bothered to get all of those books, if I thought a couple years of dipping test scores were going to cost me my teaching certificate? I think you know the answer.

We hear about how tenure keeps bad teachers in the profession. We don't hear about what it does for good teachers. I feel secure enough about my job to want to invest in it. I am grateful for the opportunity to do a job I love, so I invest in making my classroom the best place of learning it can be.

I view teaching as a profession-- as a lifetime commitment, as a calling. They are asking me to consider it a mere job. I think of my classroom as a learning environment that I shell out my own money to create. They are asking me to think of my classroom as a room that I am in-- for now-- if I can keep those scores up.

My room would be a beige, book-less bore if I thought of myself as a temp. Please don't tell me you are elevating the teaching profession by changing it from a Calling to a job.