ATST ED NEWSLETTER SEPTEMBER 2017 “Professionalise the Profession”

It is interesting that thirty years ago the term ‘amateur’ was seen as a compliment (we play sport because we love it) and the term ‘professional’ was deemed a criticism (we take sport too seriously); more interestingly, though, today, it is the total opposite – ‘amateur’ implies we are not particularly good at sport or treat it too cassually, while ‘professional’ suggests a high degree of quality in our sport. The literal differentiation can be seen as an amateur does sport out of love, the professional does it for money.

This is important as some years ago Pat Bissett, the then Executive Director of the US equivalent of ATS, gave a presentation outlining the “25 Factors that make up a Great School” and one of these factors was the commitment to “Professionalise the Profession”. For us, as teachers in an ATS school, what does this mean?

It does not mean that we simply do the work of teaching to be paid, as a job. In truth, it is something that we would do even if we were not paid, such is our belief in the importance of it (however I stress that I do not suggest you should not get paid!) A professional teacher does not simply stand up in front of a group of children and teach them, end of story.

Secondly, a professional teacher is not someone who has attended a series of courses and conferences or accumulated reams of certificates. The professional teacher in the twenty-first century is one who not only focuses on the other Cs of education (critical thinking, creativity, communication, collaboration, character) but who also demonstrates those same five Cs.

Thirdly a professional teacher is not simply a specialist in her subject or grade, maintaining a flawless pass rate for her pupils year by year. Rather, she is one who brings a wealth of all-round experience, insight and interest to the pupils’ lives. Such a teacher engages in all areas of the school, not simply in a particular subject or form.

Fourthly, a professional teacher is not simply concerned for her own performance but is deeply committed to the bigger picture, namely her department, school, sister school, ATS and Zimbabwe. She sees where her contributions all fit in to a much bigger picture.

Quite simply, a professional is one who professes belief in the value of what she is doing, a commitment to the vision and mission of the school, an awe and wonder in all that is being shared, a delight in her calling as a teacher and above all a desire to grow and improve.

On behalf of ATS, I take the opportunity to thank you for all that you are doing as a professional in your school in the difficult circumstances which we all face. May we continue to professionalise the profession in our sphere of service. For further consideration of this matter, I invite you to look at the new article on the ATS website entitled “Prophetionalism” (yes, you read that correctly!). You will find it on the link: http://www.atschisz.co.zw/category/ats/executive-director-newsletter/

I wish you great joy, fulfilment and fruitfulness as you do so.