We’re all teachers

I am always amused by those who take the educational hierarchy seriously. If it weren’t so sad, it would be quaint.

You know this idea that university professors are somehow “higher” than community college instructors (in many places were aren’t allowed to use the title professor, even if we have the same credentials as our university peers). Those who teach at colleges are considered a notch above the high school teachers; who are surely more competent than the middle school teachers, who are only a hair better than elementary teachers; who really wish those pre-school teachers would actually prepare children for ‘real school’.

Learning is continuous, recursive, and cylical. The idea of a hierarchy of  educators harks back to the concept of the school as a factory and children as manufactured items that move along an assembly line with each discrete piece of their education being attached by the assigned worker and a specific time. Surely, by now we’ve realized this model does not match how humans actually learn.

It’s not just the children who need a more seamless approach to teaching and learning; educators benefit from learning and collaborating across the artificial barriers of grade or school levels. We have so much to learn from each other about our content, about pedagogy, about our students.  I’m involved right now in a classroom exchange between one section of my community college freshman composition students and a class of 9th graders in another state. An important part of that exchange is the learning going on between me and the high school teacher about how to do such an exchange effectively, about the content the students are learning (the two classes are studying Martin L. King’s, Letter from Birmingham Jail) .  

As we push for the professionalization of teaching, we could help ourselves greatly by respecting each other for the professionals we are.

What learning opportunities have you experienced or do you see for educators working across levels?

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