What do teachers need? My Personal Experience!
By: Bereket Aweke
In my experience teaching as well as training thousands of teachers, one of the findings I dare to affirm is this. We all know that teaching used to be a cool, respected profession for many years. In my trainings, the most common examples teachers tell me is the old song roughly translated “Our bride be proud, a teacher is going to take you”. Well, it is self-explanatory! As my elder teachers told me teaching profession used to stand out of other professions in many aspects, in cities as well as rural areas. They also say it used to pay relatively well. Even though I can compare in detail about every aspect of teaching now and then, I wanted to give special attention to one aspect in particular, social recognition. Yes, social recognition! By this I mean, public acknowledgement of teacher’s status or merits (achievements, virtues, service, etc.) “The society used to respect teachers for having a crucial role in all facets of social as well as cognitive developments” one teacher told me but now he said “it is a rare incident”. I also have noticed that the society understood respecting and honoring teachers has a major impact on their children’s learning and quality of education. But, now a days, in contrary to many people (not in the profession) think, I witness frustration of teachers is mainly due to luck of recognition and respect. I say, in contrary because many think it is the payment that frustrates teachers, well it plays some role but the fact that the profession is seen as less plays a much more significant role. As an example, I know teachers that left the profession for a lesser payment but for a “better looking’ job in the society. Another teacher in a recent training shared that, when he ask how many students want to be a teacher, only one student from thirty something students raise his hand.
Parents these days, spend all they have to the success of their kids, sending their kids to “best” schools and spend higher portion of their income for their kids’ education. This is great! But, one of the major components missing in the process is the habit of respecting and honoring the teachers that do the job. How do we expect good things to happen if we don’t honor the provider? In my expectance working with foreigners and the literatures I read, I have noticed, in all of the best education systems around the world, respecting and honoring teachers seem to resonate even if it does not pay much.
I am not saying there are no problems in the teaching and learning process. I am only trying to focus on parents for today and show what they can do to improve the process. Therefore, I advise parents to examine their attitude toward teachers. If there are any problems regarding teachers, I am sure there are, please be aware that the best way to solve it is to respect and honor the teachers at first and start the conversation from there. If parents praise their work and say good things about teaching and teachers, we will certainly create a better future and may be the popular song about “a teacher marrying the girl” could be ….well remixed with a video clip as the current trend in the music business shows.