JEFF BROOMES: The high calling of a teacher
I HAVE NEVER seen a doctor that did not like to see an injured or ill person. I have seen a lawyer who did not like to see someone in legal jeopardy. As educators, we have a more diverse constituency to address. We have to assist the struggling, the striving and the succeeding.
We must structure our work to achieve the mission of seeking incremental improvement for all.
The medical profession earns its status by requiring certain minimum qualifications and standards.
The legal profession is no different. In education, our minimum qualifications are also established. Our rules and regulations promote our profession as having similarly high standards as the other somewhat more hallowed professions.
Both the medical and the legal professions have their self-supervising structures. In local education, which is predominantly a public sector, the Ministry of Education and its different levels accept this responsibility. Immediately this creates a process that is neither direct nor consistent. Therein lies the pointed deviation from the other two professions.
I accept the notion of qualifications and standards. I also respect the notion of regulations and supervision. These, however, must coalesce with accountability to drive professionalism, which must define our work. To this end, we must respect our guiding principles, but we must also respect positional responsibility and authority.
All professionals, none more so than educators, must approach their duties with a sense of dignity. They must promote their actions with self-respect, always being able to look themselves in the mirror and say, “I gave honest effort in the execution of my assigned duties.”
As teachers, we need by our actions and interaction with our students to have them get the genuine message that everything will be alright. That is how we communicate our passion, and move the struggling to striving, the striving to succeeding and the succeeding to achieving! There is no profession that gives more long-term impact and satisfaction!
Teachers may never make as much money as lawyers or have as much independence as doctors, but they make as much difference in nation building.
We deserve to be defended as we explore and make the expected mistakes, but we should never expect to be protected when we fall short of professionalism in our duties and responsibilities. This is a disservice!
Today, as has always been the case, there have been good teachers and bad teachers. We can all recall wishing we could get rid of some. There have also been teachers who have had good days and bad days. That is to be expected, but we must be true to ourselves, accept our mistakes, seek to correct them and move on with ethics and principles as our guide.
We must accept that though many may enter the classroom, only a few can be called teacher. If persons aren’t passionate about teaching, they should not get into it; if they do and cannot be respectful of its challenges, they should get out of it; and, if they are not committed in the execution of their responsibilities, they should be put out of it. This is my absolute belief.
The future of our nation depends on the strength and quality of our education and educators. As a leader or a practitioner, this focus should never be lost, and none of us should be too weak to address it when it does. We must ignore the fans and the supporters and respect our sworn duties. Those who seek to uphold our indiscipline and poor performance are not our friends.
Jeff Broomes is an experienced educator, principal and community organiser who also served as vice-president of the BCA and director of the WICB. Email: [email protected]