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Technician versus Savior versus Professional

By Dave Stuart Jr.

The way we conceptualize teaching is important.

The Technician is always in search of the next practical strategy, the next product, the next formal observation where a complex rubric will be completed and discussed. Before we dismiss it, let’s realize that there is some truth here — we do need practical strategies, we do need functional lessons and classroom management and ways to organize our desks. But ultimately, the Technician’s hope for the complete sciencing of human development is dystopian — and we are seeing some of that now, in data for data’s sake, testing for accountability purposes, and the calculation of a teacher’s value-added.

The Savior is always taking responsibility, always working, always believing in the individual teacher’s power to Save Just One. Again, before we dismiss it, let’s see the truth here: teachers do have great responsibility (I would even call it a sacred one), our work does require intensity and effort, and I think we’ve all seen that a single teacher can alter a life’s trajectory. Yet ultimately, the Savior does a lot of it for himself — so he can tell people what kind of teacher he is, so he can look in the mirror and see the kind of person he wants to see — and is far too self-reliant to stand much of a chance of going the distance and maximizing his impact through a long career of continuous improvement.

The Professional is engaged for the duration, focused on improvement, earnest in the work of promoting long-term flourishing. I can’t keep writing with the formula above because I’m obviously advocating for this. The Professional takes the best of the Technician, the best of the Savior, adds heavy dashes of humility and balance, and then persists in getting better at The Work, one day at a time, for years.

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