We do a serious job. We make sure people's children learn to read, write, do math, think, communicate. We socialize other citizens into society outside of the family world. Our job is very important but we are not taken seriously as professionals. Part of the problem is how we view ourselves. Earlier this year I went to a conference and people started asking me for business cards, the first thing that came to mind was: "I am just a teacher," I don't need cards... I mean who am I going to give them to? Right?
We are professionals.
We have professional identities.
We have professional identities that we need to manage.
If we do so, we will get what EVERY OTHER PROFESSIONAL IN THE UNIVERSE GETS: a sense of what we want professionally, what we want to get out of work and a sense of direction.
If we want the days of "those who can do, those who can't teach" to be over, we need to step up and show the world who we are: hardworking dedicated people who are allowed to be ambitious and deserve real salaries and to be treated like adults.
I am not suggesting that business cards lead to fortune and fame and students all passing all the test ever, but if we start managing our professional life and identity, we will know what it is we are trying to achieve on a larger scale, feel more fulfilled because of it. We can't hang all of our hope on our students. We need to lead them, and we must have a clear idea of who we are and what we want in order to be effective.
Tenure is not enough to save us. Our unions and principals can't do this for us. We can't hide behind them anymore. Get ahead of these changes and be ready now.
How can we start?
I am no expert. I have business cards. I cleaned up my Twitter a tad. I set up and have started working on a LinkedIn profile.
I have started looking at how other teachers I admire present themselves and thinking how I can apply those lessons to my own career. Because I am a professional.