Professional judgment in education, to me, means that I do what’s best for students in light of the research, the training I’ve received, good and not-so-good decisions from the past and the general consensus of my level-headed colleagues.  Unfortunately, there are educators (very loud ones, at that!) who use the term “professional judgment” to mean LEAVE ME ALONE AND LET ME DO MY THING.  I’ve seen it more than I want to admit: an educator is asked to change practice or reconsider his action in light of lagging scores, lack of performance or flawed thinking and, as a form of resistance, says, “What happened to MY professional judgment?  Do I have no voice?”

This isn’t exactly about you, I want to say.

Unfortunately, if what you’re doing isn’t working FOR WHATEVER REASON, there needs to be adjustment…and citing “professional judgment” as an avoidance technique isn’t a path to increased student achievement.  Side note: It’s funny, the ONLY people I hear using the term “professional judgment” are those under fire for ineffective practices!  Go figure!

Here are five ideas on professional judgment in education:

  1. Professional judgment is based upon fact and validated experience, not feeling.
  2. Professional judgment is based upon what gets results.  Real results like student achievement numbers, not intangible success.
  3. Professional judgment is fluid.  As we learn more, study more and try more things in the classroom, our judgment is adjusted.
  4. Professional judgment is not about my opinion or what I like, but what I know and see working.
  5. Professional judgment is only as valid as it improves the quality of instruction.  End of story.

What do you think?