Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Note to Lori Wheal: Teaching is its own Career Path

Lori Wheal, member of Asshats for Education (A4E), regaled us today with the sorrowful tale of why she is leaving the classroom. In typical Asshat style, she tells her tale of woe while informing us--repeatedly--what a wonderful teacher she is and what a shame it is to lose her. She tells us she is a great teacher "by all measures". She lumps herself in with the "irreplaceable" teachers the city loses every year. She talks about being in the Master Teacher program, and refers to herself as a Master Teacher at every conceivable opportunity. No, really. She uses the title on LinkedIn and on Twitter. She even got NY1 to refer to her that way.

I don't know Ms. Wheal at all, but I do know that people who feel the need to toot their own horns all the time are usually the weakest and most insecure teachers.

So what's causing Ms. Wheal to leave and put the entire NYC school system in jeopardy of imminent collapse? Well, she was (as you may have heard) a Master Teacher at a turnaround school, and now that position has been eliminated because those schools will not be closed. This has left poor Master Teacher Wheal hopeless, as her precious "career ladder" has been yanked out from under her. Clearly, she has no option but to leave the system, because despite her Master Teacher credentials, she no longer has any intention of teaching children and wants to turn to education policy.

Maybe there's a way to introduce Master Teacher Wheal to Ruben Brosbe, another Asshat who had no trouble telling everyone else how to teach but headed for the hills when there was real teaching to be done.

I've got news for the boo-hoo-ing Asshats like Master Teacher Wheal: Teaching is its own career path. If you have gone into teaching because you hope one day to run a school district, you are in the wrong profession. If telling other teachers how wonderful you are is more important to you than getting in front of kids and doing the day in, day out work of actually educating children, you are in the wrong profession.

I may not know as much as Master Teacher Wheal; after all, I have only been teaching for more than twice as long as she has. But I do know that getting a gig in a turnaround school with a nifty title doesn't make you a master teacher.

What makes you a master teacher is dedication to those children in the classroom. It's sticking it out even when the going gets tough. It's being dedicated to teaching as a career and not looking at it as a stepping stone to greater things for your own advancement. It's knowing that every year in the classroom teaches you something you can use the next year, and the next.

If you go into education with the view that being a classroom teacher is the bottom rung of the ladder, you are a disgrace to the profession and you should leave.

That means you, Master Teacher Wheal.

Don't let the door hit you on the asshat on the way out.


Michael Fiorillo said...

As you correctly point out, this woman's arrogance and self-regard is just beyond the beyonds, to say nothing of her blindness/indifference to using her colleagues throats as a career stepping stone.

In a less debased, disinformed era, something like this would be published as a case study of public preening and vanity, instead of an "opinion" piece.

There must be an Organizational Psychology/Human Resources profile, questionnaire and checklist for deformers to identify and promote these people, since they're replicating out of control:

- Self-centeredness?
- Self-importance?
- Seemingly willful lack of awareness of how their actions affect others?
- Unquestioning willingness to obey authority and channel received opinion?

Check, check, check and check.

Anonymous said...

Lori Wheal couldn't even keep herself engaged as a full time teacher. I wonder how many of those 10 years were actually spent full time in the classroom with a full teaching schedule. In my 16 years of teaching full time in Harlem, I have seen countless teachers come and go. Ms. Wheal is just another one.

chaz said...

My sentiments exactly.

ASTRAKA said...

Ms Wheal,  Master Teachers don't care for the title. They do not look to get out of the classroom for more money. They stay and teach 30-35-40 years.
Their colleagues know them and ask them for help whenever the need arises.  You know you are a master teacher,  when your colleagues respect you for your knowledge, and respect you as trustworthy person.

BronxEnglish said...

I've been teaching for fifteen years here in New York City.  It has NEVER come into my head to call myself a "Master" teacher. . . nor has it come into my head to enter that stupid "Master Teacher" program.  Why is that, you ask?  #1:  I am a teacher because I want to teach students.  I want to do the best I can, all year.  I want to improve each year.  If I run away from my students so I can get a couple thousand extra bucks, what does that say about me as a teacher?  Not much.  (Another concern was the DOE--everyone knows they try a new program, don't wait to see if it works, throw it away, repeat.  Why should I bother, even for one year?)
I am, however, proud to call myself a "veteran" NYC public school teacher.  I think I've earned that moniker.  But Wheal's editorial reads like the bleats of a self-aggrandizing, pompous, self-serving jackass.  I can't imagine any of my colleagues writing a ridiculous column like that.  She sounds like a big fan of my favorite deformer, Michelle Rhee.  How she can show her face to colleagues and pretend to be collegial after this debacle is beyond me.  Oh yeah. . . she's so much smarter and more talented than her colleagues.  She's gonna pull a Brosbe and go into policy.  Can't wait for her edicts!  

Ken Ricci said...

Really great reporting! Why doesn't Master Teacher Wheal join the ranks of the ATR - no that's a career path.  She should check my blog

Pete Zucker said...

Brilliant as always Mr Talk. I tip my hat to you.