Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Maybe I'll Quit Teaching and Try Being a Lawyer

This morning, as I was having my cup of coffee I opened up Tweetdeck like I do every morning. As I was checking my notifications and updates on some of the lists I follow, someone I follow posted this:
"A friend of mine is a lawyer and is thinking of quitting to teach English. Does anyone have any advice for her?"
"Yes." I thought to myself. "Go back to college, spend some time student teaching, and get a teaching degree."

I didn't reply to the tweet, though.  I thought better of it, and being snarky rarely leads to any kind of positive outcome on social media. All day, that tweet has bothered me, though.

What on Earth would lead someone to believe that they are qualified to teach when they have done nothing before that qualifies them to teach?  Maybe I'll quit teaching and try being a lawyer for a while.  After all, I've seen lots of episodes of Law and Order and watched Legally Blond 2.


As someone who has dedicated my adult life to my profession, it makes me angry that our job is viewed as something anyone can do.  Having a law degree doesn't make you any more qualified to teach English than it does for you to practice dentistry.

People don't seem to understand that teaching isn't about the content - it's about kids. Think about the best teacher you ever had.  Think about why they were amazing. It wasn't because they knew more about their subject than anyone else, was it?  As Yeats said, "Education is not the filling of a pail, but a lighting of a fire." Amazing teachers know how to light fires.

Great teachers aren't great because they know their content better (As I'm typing this I'm thinking of the Big Bang Theory where Sheldon bombs as a guest lecturer).  Great teachers understand how learning happens.  They understand child development, brain science, and most importantly they understand students.  They know how to inspire, motivate, and bring out the best in each one of their students.  They know when to use formative assessments and what feedback will help students most.

Last I checked, they weren't teaching those skills in law school.  Then again, I haven't really checked lately.  I figure, I won't need to go to law school if I decide to switch careers. There's bound to be a Law and Order marathon coming up on TNT sometime soon.


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