Yesterday was a difficult day in numerous ways, but more so as my sister opened our lunch conversation with the following:
“Why don’t more teachers show pride in the profession? It doesn’t seem as if we are a profession even in the eyes of teachers.”
It was a legitimate question, and one which no doubt gets me to show an overtly passionate stream of emotions. What can I say? Some topics really do light a flame within me. And when prompted by Chris Crouch on the #aprilblogaday challenge to consider the question, “what is our most important professional responsibility beyond the classroom?” now is the perfect time to address why the above question/statement should matter to you (and should light a fire within you!)
Within these past two weeks, there have been statements made by educators that now is not the time to go into teaching. (Wait, come again?) Yet, there have been equally as many statements on why NOW is the time to go into teaching by educators. Naturally, my perception aligns with the latter, but I can understand the former to a degree. What am I to say to my sister, or any teacher for that matter, who comes across professionals in their own field who are “disengaged?” It can be disheartening.
So here’s my response to her question and statement: it may be that you come across individuals who are disengaged with the profession (as such can occur in any profession), but it doesn’t mean they don’t have a passion for it. It is our role as educators to ensure the well-being of one another; YES, even beyond our four-walled classroom. We are tasked with a tough role. Yet, the only way to ensure our profession transforms is if we “grow the conversation,” as stated by Sean McComb. And by growing the conversation, I mean advocating for OUR profession, and sparking the passion for why we do what we do daily amongst one another (especially those who need it right now.)
It is our responsibility, and here’s what we can do:
1. Connect: choose to collaborate beyond your school walls. This will no doubt challenge you to embrace different perspectives. Reach out through Twitter, Voxer, Periscope, Blogging, etc.; connect to ensure (quality) dialogue is occurring on the profession you are so passionate about. Remember, conversation is a two-way street – so contribute to such!
2. Lead: we want all our students to be dynamic, lead learners of their growth, thus truly owning their pathway to success. Yet, the only way such can occur and be modeled is if we choose to lead ourselves. I challenge you to step outside your comfort zone, and lead beyond your classroom. No doubt, this will help your students as you strengthen your own ability to risk, support, and facilitate for both them and your colleagues.
3. Advocate: I came across the following video by Joe Darko: A Call to Action. The video was shared this week by EducationNC, a research and analysis site created to inform individuals on nonpartisan conversation occurring across the state related to education. I find it imperative to all to watch as the message is simple: now is the time for us to advocate, and not remain quiet. What does this ultimately show our future generation? Advocacy can occur in so many different forms, so don’t be hesitant to start. I even encourage you all to be bold enough to reach out to your local representatives. Attend District Board of Ed., State Board of Ed., and other meetings in which education IS the conversation. A simple conversation and/or invitation can change things!
4. Stay informed: to be considered a profession, we must choose to be informed on the legislation and actions occurring which directly impact our students. By choosing not to, we are choosing to remain quiet on issues that matter most. Follow Pubic Forum or EducationNC to remain up-to-date on legislation and action related to education occurring in your state.
5. Growth Mindset: having the right mindset is imperative to remaining in touch with the reason why you entered, or were called, into the field. If we don’t see ourselves as leaders or advocates, then we choose not to be such. It does not matter how long you’ve been in this profession; do not choose to be hindered by the perception that one can not lead or advocate based on experience. Your voice matters!
Ultimately, we as educators instruct on concepts and skills that are not addressed in that curriculum guide. We must show
our students how and when to use their voice; we must help them cultivate soft and hard skills beyond the prescribed guidelines. Most importantly, we must show our students how to persevere. In spite of challenges, we must daily choose to emerge pragmatic in our actions, resilient, and engaged in conversation. The best way to do such is through “leading by example.”
I challenge all educators in our realm to no longer “remain quite” as Joe Darko says; to no longer tune out the conversation about our profession. This may be what is easier, or more comforting, but is this what is right? This is OUR practice, and we must begin to practice that which we only hope to instill within our future generations. As Sean McComb states, NOW is the time to go into teaching. Likewise, NOW is also the time for all educators to understand we are one team seeking justice for our students.
And with the statement, “it doesn’t seem as if we are a profession even in the eyes of teachers,” I say that this alone should be the leverage that makes all educators say to themselves, “NOW is the time to shift the conversation to ensure appropriate solutions and actions result out of the best interest of our students.”
It is our responsibility.