I feel sorry for those not inside education when they hear the stories similar the  systematic cheating in Atlanta. They do not understand that these are not the real teachers. The public or pre-service teachers might be frightened; they could worry there is nothing they can do to save or even help education if all teachers are like this, but these are not the real teachers.

Real teachers are not guided by test grades, they are guided by their sense of fairness. Their sense of fairness would never willingly deprive a child of learning or deny them future help for learning they still had to do. Real teachers would not cheat students in exchange for something of so little value as test scores. Real teachers have taken stands for what is right and we know our students are always watching – we want to teach them by example.

Real teachers know that sure, people will “grade” them, their school, their district. However, there are always students to teach. And for the most part, no one in the position of judging a teacher is waiting in anticipation for that teacher’s job, no one is bursting with enthusiasm to swoop in and take over your workload. And no one year’s “grade” makes or breaks a student or teacher.

I do not say that to give the impression that teachers are impervious to criticism or above evaluation for the important tasks they perform. I say that to illustrate the difference between real teachers and others. Others worry about how the outside world evaluates them; real teachers are concerned for the long-term well-being of students, learning, and the school system overall. Real teachers think long-term, like Mr.-Holland’s-Opus-long-term.

People who think short-term are interested in something other than real teachers – and I do not pretend to entirely understand it, but I believe it is linked to some sort of personal gain.

But those who are not real teachers can do the most damage, both in terms of public relations and in terms of depth of impact to any one student. So finding and retaining the real teachers needs to be pursued throughout the entire educational organization; from hiring to firing. The chances of catching a real teacher ending up on the news for something awful are minimal, but the odds that the wrong ones do damage one way or another is almost a certainty.

What do you think?