If we now believe that education is fundamentally about putting a great teacher in front of kids and giving them time and space to do what they do best, we need to start thinking about teacher status in a serious way.
While status is influenced by salary levels, it is far from a direct correlation. In Finland, which has the best educational system in the world, teachers are not paid dramatically more than in the United States. However, being a teacher is considered prestigious, a top destination choice for students, and brilliant graduates flock to teaching in a way that is unheard of here. In addition to salary, status also comes from public perception of teaching as a meaningful profession, not unlike the halo given to someone who works for a nonprofit in Africa. And in the long run, it comes from a critical mass of people you respect who choose the teaching profession.
The San Francisco Education Fund's "Thank a Teacher" campaign is in full swing. Write a note to a teacher you loved or a teacher who changed your lens on the world! http://www.thankateachertoday.org
To Mrs. Campos - for showing me what passion for science looks like, because otherwise it might have taken me a lot longer to figure it out.
To Mrs. King - for being phenomenally competent at what you do, teaching me how to think logically, giving me a solid foundation in calculus and Turbo Pascal, and giving me a female role model for all these things.
To Brother Aquinas - for instilling a fascination for literature and appreciation for words read aloud, defining humor as a journey to surprise, making me memorize Wordsworth, Shakespeare and Milton, and showing me the charm of British eccentricity.
To Mr. Dhuyvetter - for helping me understand that you can't do great writing by the numbers, and also the humor in cynicism.
To my Dad - for a lifelong love of learning and the idea that you keep studying, trying, risking all throughout your life.
4/12/2012 - Renovation of the James Lick Middle School Teacher's Lounge - Before and After Photos