Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Should we share where we went to college?

I began hanging my diplomas on my classroom wall during my time teaching middle school mathematics. A few students and parents were questioning whether or not I knew what I was doing because I was focusing on making connections rather than memorizing content. Since this was counter to their experiences in previous math classes, I was not really "teaching math."

At the time, I read somewhere that teachers ought to post their credentials as a way of reinforcing the professional nature of our chosen vocation. Doctors and lawyers do it. So why not teachers?

Hanging my diplomas did not stop the questions about my teaching, but I found myself on occasion looking at them and responding, "I can assure you that what I am doing is based on the latest research on how student learn. If you'd like, I can show it to you." As I recall, none of the students or parents took me up on my offer. That doesn't mean that they completely accepted my methods but they could not deny that I was an educated professional.

Over the past year, I have been in a lot of doctors' and lawyers' offices. In each case, copies of their diplomas were displayed prominently. These framed documents did not impress me. They did not reassure me. They simply reminded my that I was in the presence of a professional. Parents and students deserve the same reminder when dealing with teachers.


  1. No high school diploma, though?

    Seriously, this is an interesting perspective. I'll take it under advisement.

    Please say that you don't sign emails following the construction "Dr. Blowhard, Ph.D." Please?

    1. Also, I wish I had my teacher certification hanging in my office. It was in my middle school classroom but needs a new frame. I must get on that.

      I don't use "Dr." but I do include "Ph.D." in most of my professional emails - again, just as a reminder. I certainly avoid using "Blowhard."


  2. I have my diplomas--high school, BA, MA, Phd--on my office wall. For me, it's not only a way to demonstrate my credentials, but also a way to honor those institutions and my teachers who helped me get to where I am today. And I'm proud of where I've been and the work I've done. I like your idea of framing my teacher certifications. I think I'll dig them out and get them up on the wall.

  3. Thanks for giving more detail - I have to think about this a bit more and decide on how formal I want to be (diplomas versus college pendants).