Teachers, It’s Time to Advocate for Our Profession

I graduated from college back in 2001. Like many college grads, with a few months of student teaching under my belt, I was ambitious, arrogant, idealistic, and scared. I wanted to grab students attention, teach lesser known works, make English class something that was less lecture, writing essays, and grammar lessons, and more deep thinking and discussions. I was going to be the “cool” English teacher.

I was lucky enough to have  had a cooperating teacher at Benjamin Banneker Academic High School that supported every choice I made, and had the utmost faith I’d be a good and dedicated teacher. I respected him, and will forever be in debt to his guidance and professionalism. So, before I left Washington D.C. that summer to move back home and search for jobs, I made a promise to myself.

When teaching becomes nothing more than a job, I will walk away.

I did, and I wrote about this a couple of years ago here.

Since I’ve returned from my leave, I’ve been more energized and certainly more involved, but something is still missing. The very nature of working in a school labeled as persistently low achieving and forced into a School Improvement Grant funded Transformation Plan takes its toll. (I should mention that the school has successfully been removed of that status, but we still have a long way to go)

My classroom was manageable, my teaching was good, not great, but good, but my view of the system, the whole education system, was what frustrated me the most.

Now, at the expense of ruffling a few feathers or being labeled a “rabble-rouser”, I make the following statement;

No one thing can polarize teachers, administration, students, and community like federal funding.

Initiative overload, tight deadlines, “just spend the money” mentality, and the constant imposing threat of, what it we’re not successful? (without positive reinforcement) drives stakeholders to size each other up instead of bringing them together. The “chain of command” and traditional hierarchy that should be more flexible in these times, becomes more rigid. And for individuals like myself, frustration grows as the teacher’s voice becomes muted amidst the chaos of reform.

That lack of voice, or silenced voice, is what brings me to the title of this blog entry [nice segue, right?]. As a moderate introvert, I tend to swallow my frustrations and let them fester, or day dream about confronting those frustrations in fantastical and elaborate ways (see figure 1)

Fig. 1

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I could bring my concerns to my superiors, and I have, but the change as a result of that is little or never fully fleshed out.

So instead of having the same discussions over and over again, it’s time to build a team, say my piece, and be at the top of my game.

I will advocate for my profession by being the best teacher I can be, and not by what others might define as the “best teacher” (cooperative and quiet).  I will advocate by challenging myself in pursuing what I believe to be the pinnacle of teacher excellence, National Board Certification. I hope to inspire others to do the same, and I will catalogue my journey here on this blog.

Come along for the journey, be inspired, and share your advice.

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