Response: Educators Have Many Roles
Over this past weekend a handful of educators posted on their blogs about "pretend leaders," "mystics," and "EduCelebs."
The posts seemed to target people who work in the field of education – as researchers, consultants, authors, and speakers – but are no longer working in a school or classroom daily. It is important to note: Each blogger acknowledged that these folks did work in schools earlier in their careers.
There were two common themes across all posts:
- A person who claims to have experience or expertise but doesn’t is not a reliable resource in their profession.
- A person must presently work as a practitioner in a school or classroom in order to have any credibility in the education space.
I agree with the first point.
I disagree with the second.
While it is acceptable, and even encouraged, to disagree with a book author’s premise or a keynote speaker’s thesis, it is not helpful to disagree with that same person simply because he/she has chosen a different career path than I have chosen in the same field.
For instance, in the field of medicine, physicians who see patients day-in and day-out do not categorically discount the work of physicians who are researchers merely because they do not see patients. The research leads to breakthroughs in treatments that can help the practitioner physicians perform better for their patients. The news of this research is disseminated by authors of journal articles and speakers at conferences. Also, the data that practitioners provide to researchers informs how they prioritize time and funding to investigate solutions.
Practitioners and researchers in the medical community need one another. This is also true in education.
Thanks to educators who have chosen to work outside schools and classrooms, we have improved practices to use inside schools and classrooms. Here are some examples:
- The researchers at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society have produced a valuable tools for teaching digital literacy and online privacy with the Digital Literacy Toolkit.
- The Buck Institute for Education is a research-based group that is widely considered the best resource for educators on project based learning.
- The Future Ready partnership between the Alliance for Excellence in Education and the Department of Education has done extensive policy research and worked with superintendents nationwide. They have also built a tool that many districts have used to create or evaluate EdTech plan.
These are just a handful of examples and there are more, but you get the idea.
Educators in schools and classrooms around the country have improved their teaching practices because of the researchers, authors, and speakers who are part of these organizations. Teachers and administrators should continue to provide feedback to those researchers, authors, and speakers and that feedback should be based on the content of their work.
Education is not a race. When we encourage one another education moves forward.
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