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It’s Teacher Appreciation Week, and all across the internet we find signs of celebration. Big companies are recognizing the profession by offering teacher discounts. School districts are giving their teacher staff shout outs. State Departments of Education are thanking the teachers who serve their states so well. Teacher prep programs like American Board are using their social media to spotlight their teacher graduates. And yet, if you tuned to the news you might think teaching was the worst job ever. The media’s portrayal of teachers and the teaching profession is doing far more harm than good, and that’s got to stop. To truly celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week, we need to respect our teachers.

Examples

A quick Google search of the term “teachers” results in a handful of negative comments.

This is pretty ridiculous! The media portrays teaching as the worst career, pushes the narrative that teachers are rushing to leave the profession, and questions teachers and their expertise. Teachers are not helpless! They are career professionals, and we need to treat them as such. Despite constantly railing on the profession, the media will then turn around and lament the teacher shortage.

Reality Check

There are 3.5 million teachers in the U.S. and the vast majority are fantastic at their jobs, committed to helping their students learn. As an example, principals who employ American Board trained teachers indicate that they plan to retain these teachers long term, which demonstrates the teachers’ value to their local schools.

We know the media loves a sob story. Let’s think of the media’s portrayal of all public facing professions. How does your nightly news station cover teachers? Police officers? Heck, even local business leaders get the short end of the stick on the nightly news. But really, these people are community leaders and we depend on their success.

Let’s look at what some teachers did for a living before changing careers to serve local students.

Jeff shifted from a career in banking to teaching because he saw that his children had no male teachers and he wanted to serve as a positive male role model for students.
Robin worked as an optician prior to becoming a teacher. She brings her expertise in a STEM field, in addition to a degree in English, to the classroom.

This year was particularly hard for the teaching profession. At every opportunity, the media would spotlight remote teaching and the educational loss students were experiencing. What you didn’t hear on the nightly news was how quickly most teachers pushed for a returned to the classroom.

Science teacher Megan was excited to be back in school and hands on with her students.

Why won’t the media cover this? Because success doesn’t bring in the ratings.

Who Cares?

The problem with the media’s horrid portrayal of the teaching profession is that it isn’t a victimless crime. This negative portrayal has real consequences, negatively impacting not only teachers but also students and schools as a whole.

Studies show that the media’s portrayal of teachers impacts the public’s view of public education. Think about it. If you were considering transitioning to a career in teaching, what news story you’ve seen lately would prompt you to make the switch? It’s likely your answer is ‘none.’ And thats a big problem! Schools need access to more teachers, and students deserve excellent teachers. So let’s quit diminishing the profession and start focusing on the local educators who are making big differences for their students. The more we highlight excellent educators, the more often career changers will make the switch and enter the classroom. Likewise, the more we portray teaching as a worthy and respected profession, the more college students will consider teaching for their career.

When we respect our local teachers and the work they do, when we quit pushing agendas and let teachers teach, when we quit politicizing the profession or leveraging nonsense stories for ratings, everybody wins.

How to Reject the Media’s Portrayal of Teachers

The next time you see the media sensationalizing pushback against teachers, change the channel. The next time you pick your kid up from school, tell their teacher how much you appreciate all they’ve done to get back to normal.

If you’ve considered becoming a teacher, don’t let the media scare you. Instead, talk to teachers at your local school and see how they’re doing. We think you’ll see that they’re all doing just fine, that they love what they do, and that their students’ success is their priority.

Click here to learn more about becoming a teacher.

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