Over the summer, I read John Bogle’s 2009 book, Enough. In the book, Mr. Bogle (founder of Vanguard) gives solid advice on investing, business and life. I gleaned much from its pages, but the chapter on professionalism spoke to me as a teacher. Mr. Bogle quotes an article in the Daedalus (Summer 2005) which lists six characteristics of a professional:
- A commitment to the interest of clients in particular, and the welfare of society in general.
- A body of theory or special knowledge.
- A specialized set of professional skills, practices, and performances unique to the profession.
- The developed capacity to render judgments with integrity under conditions of ethical uncertainty.
- An organized approach to learning from experience, both individually and collectively, and thus of growing new knowledge from the context of practice.
- The development of a professional community responsible for the oversight and monitoring of quality in both practice and professional educators.
In my opinion, these six characteristics are a roadmap to growth as a professional. In fact, I found them so helpful that I used them to set my course for this upcoming academic year. My version of becoming more professional looks likes this:
- I commit myself to serving the needs of my students and my school.
- I signed up for TESOL Quarterly and renewed my memberships to TESOL International Association and my local affiliate. I will read weekly and incorporate what I have learned into my teaching.
- When planning lessons, I will draw upon my training and resources.
- I will establish clear guidelines for grading assignments and determining course grades. I will listen to students concerned about fairness and act judicially.
- At the end of each week, I will review what went well and how I could improve my teaching. When evaluating students progress, I will consider what I can learn about my teaching from the results.
- I will fully participate in the faculty feedback system at my school and always seek to learn from the observations of my colleagues.
For those of you who teach, how might you hone your craft? For those who learn, how might these qualities make you a better student. I’d love to hear your ideas.