Renée A. Middleton
Renée A. Middleton
By Renée A. Middleton
Dean of the Gladys W. & David H. Patton
College of Education at Ohio University


ATHENS, Ohio – In his state-budget proposal, House Bill 49, Ohio Governor John Kasich is seeking to overhaul the state’s teacher-licensure program.

Kasich’s proposal would require Ohio teachers to “complete an on-site work experience” with a local business or chamber of commerce to renew their teaching licenses. Yes, effective Sept. 1, 2018, teachers would be required to complete “externships.”

In other words, business job-shadowing. Really?

I support the governor’s desire to connect schools with local businesses and foster community relationships. Local businesses ought to be providing resources to their local schools to help supplement the funds that the governor has taken away from our public schools.

Kasich’s proposal, whether he realizes it or not, is suggesting that teachers do not know what, or how, to teach. In fact, he is sending a message that local businesses are more qualified and better equipped to educate than actual educators. 
 
Nothing could be further from the truth. 

Becoming a teacher requires years of study and training. It does not require job-shadowing in unrelated fields. Teachers already do “job-shadowing.”

They are members of learning communities and reading groups. They collaborate with their colleagues as members of a team, sharing their knowledge and skills while contributing to the ongoing development of strong schools. 

Teachers often use their community – urban, suburban, or rural – as a laboratory for learning. The internet extends those opportunities, giving students the chance to investigate local towns or explore cities, states, and countries from around the world. Teachers already enrich their lesson plans, projects, and topics of study by, for example, observing city council in action, collecting oral histories from senior citizens, studying ecology at a public park, visiting a museum or exploring career options in small businesses. 

Pre-service teachers also “job-shadow” by completing professional internships in teaching (student-teaching). The new re-imagined clinical model of education adopted by many of Ohio’s colleges of education has changed the way we prepare teachers to teach.

In fact, The Patton College’s re-imagined clinical model has been recognized by the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) as one of the nation’s best. Learning from school-based teachers and spending whole days in classrooms effectively prepare our pre-service teachers. Job-shadowing Susie in sales or Mike in marketing would not.
 
If anything, Susie, Mike – and the governor – could learn a lot by job-shadowing and observing how teachers teach in the 21st century. Educators must constantly adjust in the moment. They must relate to students and remain in tune with their needs despite varying personalities, interests, viewpoints, and abilities. They must cater to the group while accounting for the individual. They must do all of this while keeping everyone on, or ahead, of the learning schedule. 
 
It’s not easy. 
 
For nearly 35 years, I have had the privilege of working in education. I have seen many changes both in terms of how teachers teach and what teachers teach. I’ve also seen teaching standards develop and increase over time. The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, for example, understands that teachers are committed to students and their learning. It understands that teachers know not only the subjects they teach, but also how to teach them. It understands that teachers know how to manage and monitor student learning, think systematically about their practice, learn from their experiences, and recognizes that they are leaders of active learning communities. 
 
In short, the pedagogical approach has evolved a great deal since the governor was in school. If you haven’t been in a classroom in a while, come by and see what teachers are doing today. Learn about the curricular aspects of instruction and the technology on display. Everyone could benefit by job-shadowing a teacher.
 
I am sure this was not Governor Kasich’s intention, but the insinuation that non-educators know more about education than actual educators is offensive to teachers and the teaching profession. His plan, while well-meaning, has it backwards. On behalf of teachers everywhere, I invite the business community to come job-shadow in one of our local public schools. 

If the governor wants to propose a sound budget, I wish him well in that endeavor. But if he wants to dictate education policy, I suggest he visit a school for a full day and job-shadow a teacher, principal, or superintendent. Or try something else first, like qualifying for a professional internship in teaching.