Accountability

The following is an excerpt from Chapter 1.  It is written by Grant Wiggins.

“During my nineteen-year career in the classroom, I taught for sixteen years in grades 9 through 12 in three good schools and for several years at the college level at an Ivy League institution.  In all those years, I was never hired on the basis of a real job description or a performance-based test of my abilities. Rather, as in almost all teacher hiring, I responded to a notice about a content-area slot that needed to be filled.  I was never required to directly show that I could teach.  More importantly, perhaps, I was never given a real job description framed in terms of performance standards and learning goals.  I merely had to provide reference in which I was praised and that verified my paperwork was accurate concerning my readiness to handle the job to be filled.”

This excerpt had real meaning for me.  Let me first say this, I think there are many effective teachers out there.  As a teacher myself, I certainly don’t want to go on a teacher-bashing tirade.  It’s important that I don’t  do that because there are so many out there that blame public education; those people often don’t understand the field of education at all and have no clue about how to improve it.  However, being a teacher and a teacher leader, I have seen first-hand some issues that need to be addressed.  One of these issues is real accountability.  We use that word so much in education, but don’t always hold ourselves or each other to the level at which we should.  I think the aforementioned quote by Grant Wiggins is a perfect example.  His experience, unforutnately is what many experience when looking to be hired.  We really don’t have to prove ourselves to a great degree.  And school district rarely give a job description as far as standards and expectations.  The business world is notorious for expecting results. Education does not need to fully function as the business world does, but we have something to learn from the business world in the aspect of accountability and expectations. We need to step it up a notch.

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2 thoughts on “Accountability

  1. I agree whole heartedly. When I was looking for a job, I would go to all of those job fairs and meet with the principals and teachers from hundreds of schools. As I walked up to meet them, I was asked, “Oh, you are a social studies teacher… Do you coach tennis? Basketball? No? Ok, we will take your resume and… Get back to you.” There were no questions about my qualities as a teacher. Nothing about my use of technology or theories on learning or even classroom management.

    Just my coaching ability.

    I believe this to be a small example of the bigger issue in our society as a whole.

    1. I can, to some degree, relate to your experience. My husband has a great passion for social studies and got into teaching for that reason. Unfortunately, we knew he would encounter the same problems you have. In fact, a superintendent specifically told him, “you’re a great candidate, but you don’t coach.” As a result, he was also certified in communication arts. He figured that CA could get him in the door and perhaps he could transition to social studies after he got in the district. This hasn’t happened yet and it is frustrating for him to know that he would be an amazing social studies teacher, but coaches get the job instead. (Coaches that often do stats during class instead of teach). You’re so right, it is a symptom of a bigger problem. I think some would say that a superintendent and district have various needs and coaching is one of them….that sports play a vital role in the lives of kids. As a former high school athlete, I totally agree. But, what message do we send kids and what message are we instilling in society to put sports before academics? I hope things have or will work out for you soon. Thanks for posting your comment and sorry it took me months to reply.

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