Foundations and Assessment of Education/Edition 1/Foundations Table of Contents/Chapter 1/The Scoop From Someone Who Knows

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Education as a Profession[edit]

The Scoop From Someone Who Knows

By Jill Newhart-Fortner

Learning Target

Students will be able to identify the reasons why teachers teach.

Students will be able to identify the requirements of education professionals, as set forth in No Child Left Behind.

After reading the interview from the expert, students will be able to identify how she believes teachers should impact their students.

Students will be able to identify the goal of teaching.


Background of Topic

The term "profession" is defined in Webster's Dictionary as "a calling requiring specialized knowledge and often long and intensive academic preparation (profession, 2009)." Students understand that at the end of their college career the end goal will be their desired profession. If becoming an educator is that goal, there are characteristics that educators must possess. Many educators feel that teaching is a calling and there is a reason why they have the urge to teach. In a hearing before the United States House Committee on Education and Labor a teacher, Valdine McLean, from Lovelock, Nevada reiterated this point; “Aspiring teachers rarely go into teaching for the money (Representatives, 2007, p. 22).”

In a lecture given by Professor Seth Lerer at Stanford University, he describes the exploration of education and literature and compares the view of some people in society when they describe teaching. Lerer gives many examples of characteristics that teachers should adapt in their profession using literature to describe teachers.

Listen to Dr. Lerer's Lecture at Stanford University Dr. Lerer Lecture about Teaching.

Professor Lerer proposed that there are stereotypes of teachers. These stereotypes describe the adage that "those who can't teach (Lerer, 2003)." This quote actually is adapted by a film by Woodie Allen called Annie Hall in 1977. The quote was "those who can't do teach, those who can't teach, teach gym (Allen, 1977)." This describes how some people in society view teachers and is the main reason why it is necessary for educators to be positive role models, continue to pursue further training, and use themselves as the examples that educators are professional.

Introduction of the Expert

Barbara Fortner is an experienced teacher and is currently a principal at Sparrow Road Intermediate in Chesapeake, VA. She completed her Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from Longwood College (now University) in May, 1988. Barbara received an early contract to teach in Chesapeake through the career commitment program and began her employment with Chesapeake Public Schools in August, 1988. In May, 1994 she received her Master of Arts in Urban Education and Administration from Norfolk State University. After teaching for 11 years (3rd and 4th grades), Barbara was appointed to Assistant Principal of Deep Creek Central Elementary where she worked for 8 years. This is her 2nd year as Principal of Sparrow Road Intermediate. Based on her knowledge and educational experience, she would be considered an expert in education. Sparrow Road Intermediate Website


Give your thoughts why someone would discount education as a profession.

For as long as I can remember, education has always been given a bad rap. In the capitalistic world in which we live, money is viewed as the key to success and unfortunately those looking to get ahead financially look to higher paying jobs to climb that ladder. As a result, many do not enter the field of education. Ignorant people assume that because the salary is not enticing that those interested in the field must be lower achievers. Ironically, it is the educators that help mold and shape the individuals into the successful professionals that they are.

What do you think makes an educator more credible as a professional?

True teachers, like preachers, are called to the profession. They are teachers because they want to make a difference ~ shaping and preparing individuals ~ for the future! For the very same reason as I stated above, educators are not in the field for the money. They truly want to help students grow academically, socially and emotionally so that they may become productive citizens and lifelong learners. In this day and time, they are needed more than ever and represent more than just a student’s teacher. They are a counselor, nurse, police officer, friend, pseudo-parent, encourager, supporter just to name a few.

What has been your experience going from a teacher to an administrator? Has that changed your perspective on education?

As an administrator, I have become the instructional leader and manager of the school and have less direct personal contact with students. That is the hardest transition for me. I miss that connection with “my” students! I miss the impact that I made as a teacher but know that I am creating an instructional environment conducive for learning and I am helping 500 students rather than just 20 while leading 100 staff members to continue to strive for success while giving their best. Seeing the bigger picture from administration has changed my perspective on education a bit. The paperwork and politics can blur anyone’s vision; but watching the students learn and share their enlightenments reminds me every day of our purpose, educating all of the children of all of the people, and that keeps me focused.

How would you encourage future students to choose education as a profession?

As I stated earlier, education is a work of heart! Teachers are born, not made! It is my hope that we continue to hire exceptional teachers who will leave a mark not just on students’ minds but on their hearts. They will touch, figuratively speaking, students in such a way that they will want to be able to share those same experiences with the next generation. It is truly that simple. Thirty six years ago, one such teacher did just that and changed my life forever!

"In this day and time, they are needed more than ever and represent more than just a student’s teacher. They are a counselor, nurse, police officer, friend, pseudo-parent, encourager, supporter just to name a few."

Principal Barbara Fortner


The expert has provided many insights that are in keeping with the idea that educators are not viewed or valued for the level of education they possess. It is important to note that Principal Fortner pointed out that academic preparation is a part of the characteristics that make educators professional. She described that there was an understanding that educators also needed to aid students emotionally and socially. The inclusive education that students receive in college understands that necessity to prepare students as a whole and not only academically. In the curriculum for teacher preparation it is required that a teacher receives instruction in child development to better understand the emotional and physical changes that are occurring in growing students (College of Arts & Letters: Teacher Prep, 2009). Consequently, there must be the consideration that there are also environmental factors that contribute to the role of educators. Students that have the greatest need are often grouped together in areas of poverty and low-income. A teacher may continually have to deal with lack of parent participation, unstable home environments and other important factors that contribute to security and will have an effect on their students.

According to the No Child Left Behind Act, there are requirements for schools that have high percentages of low-income students that receive Federal assistance designated as Title I. The law ensures that all teachers in those schools are highly qualified, have to pass a rigorous State Assessment and must use some of the funds that they receive from the government to provide professional development to teachers, principals and other staff members (Bush, 2006, p. 11). The expert has also pointed out the discrepancy in the pay for educators in comparison to other professionals have contributed to negative connotations about teaching. In that aspect it is difficult to understand why the academic preparation of a teacher could be any less rewarded than the academic preparation of an engineer.

The establishment of teaching as a profession relies heavily on the definition of academic preparation. Many schools are using the term "accreditation" when describing their curriculum. According to an article in the Journal of Teacher Education, "Each accrediting body sets rigorous standards for its profession and holds the school it accredits accountable for meeting these rigorous standards (Wise, 2005; vol 56:, p. 320)." It is necessary to associate the "rigorous standards" to include the education and training that is given to educators. If educators must receive their education and training from an accredited school and meet the requirements adapted by that school to receive their degree, they have completed the rigorous training and are professional educators. Even though the degree has been earned, there are other factors that prevent educators from being viewed as professionals. The enactment of the No Child Left Behind Act set forth new criteria for teachers (Bush, 2006). It not only required teachers to hold at least a bachelor's degree, it also required teachers to be licensed or certified by the State and pass a rigorous State test on subject knowledge and teaching skills (Bush, 2006).

Although there have been some negative connotations to the NCLB law, there has been positive reform when it comes to the recognition that teachers should meet stringent criteria. There was a requirement in the NCLB law that challenged each state to have all teachers meet the criteria by 2005-2006 school year. According to a hearing in U.S. House of Representatives in 2007, that deadline has been extended based on the failure of all states to meet the criteria (Representatives, 2007, p. 2). States have guidelines for teacher licensure, as well as guidelines for licensure for other occupations. Professional licensure gives merit to the educational and testing requirements that are mandatory for many professions. Educational professionals can gain the acceptance and distinction of those professions by adhering to the standards of licensure set forth by their state.

Want to Teach in Virginia? Here are the steps! State of Virginia Routes to Teacher Licensure.

Educators are professionals, they meet the definition in every way. The interview with the expert again referred to teaching as a calling, which was the term in the definition of profession. It takes extensive academic preparation and specialized knowledge to be a professional educator. Those standards are the reason that other professionals have received the foundations they have acquired to succeed in their fields. Public opinion needs to be re-evaluated to include the requirements that were enacted with NCLB. The more that society understands the intensive training and continued commitment to education that is demonstrated by teachers every day; the easier it will be for educators to be respected and viewed as professionals.

Multiple Choice Questions:

1- According to the reading, teachers rarely begin teaching for _________.

a. Summer's off

b. Fame

c. Money

d. Ease of training

2- No Child Left Behind has impacted the field of education in many ways. After the reading, what requirement for state teachers was part of that law?

a. Experience in the education field, not necessarily in teaching

b. Teachers must have a Bachelor's Degree

c. Teachers must have taken education classes, but do not have to have a license

d. Teachers must have a Bachelor's Degree, are licensed and pass a state test.

3- Using the interview from the expert, she said that teachers need to leave a mark not just on student's minds but also their _____________?

a. report card

b. heart

c. portfolio

d. soul

4- Which statement best describes the goal of teaching, according to the reading?

a. Teaching is a lot of fun and anyone can do it.

b. Teaching is a profession that you do not have to go to college to do.

c. Teaching is something that people do because they can't do anything else.

d. Teaching requires academic preparation and a calling.

Answer Key: 1-C, 2-D, 3-B, 4-D


Allen, W. (Director). (1977). Annie Hall [Motion Picture].

Bush, P. G. (2006, August 4). A quality teacher in every classroom [electronic resource]: improving teacher quality and enhancing the profession. Retrieved June 6, 2009 , from Catalog of US Government Publications:

College of Arts & Letters: Teacher Prep. (2009, June 6). Bachelor of Science Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies-Teacher Prep. Concentration. Retrieved June 6, 2009, from Old Dominion University:

Lerer, S. (2003). Is Teaching a Calling or a Profession:Teaching Litereature in an Uncertain Age. Retrieved June 6, 2009, from Stanford University:

profession. (2009, June 6). Retrieved June 6, 2009, from Merriam-Webster Dictionary:

Representatives, U. S. (2007). ESEA Reauthorization: Boosting Quality in the Teaching Profession. Hearing Before the Committee on Education and Labor (p. 85). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.

Wise, A. E. (2005; vol 56:, September). Establishing Teaching as a Profession: The Essential Role of Professional Accreditation. Journal of Teacher Education , 318-331.

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