The Profession You Choose When You Don’t Want to Get Fired





It must be awfully hard to get fired from a teaching job nowadays.

No other profession gives tenure for mediocrity and second, third and fourth chances like teaching does.  Now I read that you can keep your teaching job after a drug or theft conviction.

Put up your hand if you want a convicted drug offender or thief teaching your kids? That’s funny, I don’t see any hands raised.

The problem with this iron clad commitment to keep teachers in their jobs through thick and thin is two-fold:

1. It means that the person selected to be a role model for your child may be anything but; and

2. When a teacher who doesn’t meet expectations isn’t fired, it devalues the whole profession. Whilst nobody wants to be constantly worried about losing their job, the level of job security for many teachers may well lead to a sense of apathy and a lack of appreciation for the responsibilities that come with the profession.

I heard of a story today about a vet that lost his job because he posted a picture of himself at a pub whilst wearing a shirt with the company logo on it. He didn’t get a warning or a demotion – he was just sent packing.

Was the penalty harsh? I think it was. But you can be sure that when this vet secures his next job, he will take his professional responsibilities more seriously.

And it’s not only vets. Someone with a conviction has lost the right to train as a firefighter, even if the offense was seemingly minor or unrelated to the performance of the job. A miner has to undergo regular drug and alcohol tests. Any negative test results in an immediate sacking.

So why don’t teachers face the same amount of scrutiny? Is it because our unions are strong? Is is because policy makers want to look like the friend of education and teachers to score some points with their constituents? Perhaps it’s because they feel sorry for us for our low pay and difficult working conditions?

Whatever it is, it devalues what is the best profession going around.


Click on the link to read The School They Dub the “Worst Primary School in the World”

Click on the link to read Education New Year’s Resolutions 2014

Click on the link to read Eight Fundamentals that Every Student Deserves

Click on the link to read 21 Reasons to Become a Teacher

Click on the link to read  25 Amusing Signs You Might Be a 21st Century Teacher


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4 Responses to “The Profession You Choose When You Don’t Want to Get Fired”

  1. John Tapscott Says:

    I totally disagree. In my 45 years of teaching I have worked with hundreds of dedicated professionals and as far as measuring them against each other I am at a loss. This is because each teacher is different. Each has a different set of skills, a different bank of knowledge, a different set of beliefs and something different and unique to contribute to the lives of the students they teach.

    To be sure, I have met teachers who struggled to get through the day, teachers who found it hard to get motivated and teachers who resisted change. At times in my career I could have been assigned to some or all of these and other categories you might want to think up. The point is teachers do change over time. They become more experienced, more accomplished, more dedicated and perhaps some become less so. The ones that become less so often find other work. The ones that remain persevere.

    The work of a teacher is not his or her work alone. It’s a contribution, together with that of their colleagues into the knowledge, skills, beliefs and attitudes of the next generation. I think at least 50 teachers contributed to my education over the years.

    Today, more than ever, the teaching profession is under attack, not because those in authority don’t know the value of a teacher’s contribution but because they do and it frightens them. There will never be enough money in the education budget to pay teachers what they are really worth.

    This is why many of the measures implemented and threatened today are happening. The effect, if not the aim, is to destroy teachers’ security, to undermine their collegiality, replace co-operation with competition, in a cynical exercise to divide and conquer.

    The reason why it appears that more teachers are failing to meet expectations is that expectations have increased to the point where it is impossible for all teachers to meet all expectations all the time. This leads to the consequences for not meeting certain expectations being left in abeyance for a time only to used in order to get rid of someone for whatever reason or whim that may or may not have anything to do with that person’s performance as a teacher.

    In my entire career I have not met more than 5 teachers who should have chosen another profession. During that time I have noticed subtle alterations in the management of teachers which have allowed people who never should be in charge of others to attain to management and have so corrupted management as to make teaching almost impossible for the many dedicated teachers that I began my career with in 1968. Furthermore the management of teachers has so changed as to make effective teaching infinitely more difficult.

    • Michael G. Says:

      I agree with all your points John and have written extensively on teachers’ stress, competition and the difficulties in evaluating a teacher’s performance. This post was about a teacher’s job security. Teachers just don’t seem to get fired with the same frequency as other professions. This has the tendency of making good teachers feel less motivated than a professional from another sphere who is faced with the prospect of losing his/her job with one small error or oversight. That’s not to say that teachers have it easy. We both know that isn’t the case.

  2. John Tapscott Says:

    On the other hand I have seen several accomplished teachers under the threat and made to jump through hoops simply because they are a little different. Being afraid for your job because you are unable to see the value in somebody else’s cockamammy ideas, as you should, because they are in charge, distracts you from what you can really do well in order to make a “superior” look good, is something I don’t buy.

  3. kedavis99 Says:

    This bewilders me because I was once warned by an administrative team that if a picture exists on social media in which I’m doing something a parent objects to such as having a drink, even if I’m unaware the picture exists because I’m simply in the background of the shot that I could be written up if the parent complained. I will say though I never go out for a “happy hour” in anything with my school’s name on it, that warning came to me way before social media was even an issue. I don’t understand how someone could be given a second chance after an actual conviction.

    I have though worked with a teacher that was certainly not fit to be a teacher. She was a very nice person and knew her subject well but she had no classroom management skills, no desire to obtain them, and no real teaching skills. She had been asked to resign from a previous position rather than get fired so we ended up with her not knowing her issues. It then took 3 years for my administration to get rid of her.

    Tenure is a whole other issue to me, yes there are teachers with tenure who should be fired but have administration too busy or lazy to follow protocol to do so. However there are districts struggling so much financially I fear if tenure were eliminated many districts would take that chance to fire/non-renew experienced teachers so that they can hire a host of new graduates and save money.

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