Keep your eyes wide open

In the face of political quick fixes and corporations with all of the right answers, teachers must be “keepers of the flame” and advocate always for the students’ best interests. This dialogue reminds teachers to be vigilant in their leadership decisions.

I just wanted to provide some additional space for a comment left on my recent post, Teacher leadership’s gaining momentum: Where are we going? In it, I share my observation that formal teacher leadership roles are becoming more common and more mainstream, which is quite a big change from where we were even eight years ago when I started teaching. I ask where teacher leaders are taking the profession and schools. Obviously we are not all doing the same work, nor do we all have the same priorities as we approach our work, so the question cannot be answered easily.

In the comments section, reader Joetta Schneider provided these important thoughts for teacher leaders as we shape our roles:

Yes, it is important to think about “toward what are we leading?” At our school, teachers brainstormed what they thought would be best for students. We then looked at research and found ideas that we could use in the transformation of our school.

I feel as though there are many new corporations developing to take advantage of monetary opportunities in education, and teachers need to beware of quick fixes. Many times these are tied to politics. At our school we are steadfastly resisting packaged answers because we feel we have the best interests of our students in mind, unlike many government and political entities. It was a rude awakening to us to find out that deals were being made behind the scenes involving selling out our students (and teachers). I would advise others: “Keep your eyes wide open and do not make hasty teacher leadership decisions. Always keep the sacred trust of your students’ best interests at the forefront of your leadership decisions.” We won’t sell out our vision for our students, nor will we sell out the teachers who trust us to build their vision for change at our school. We will choose our partnerships carefully.

Her comment reminds me of a conversation the TEACHING 2030 writing team had when we were working on our book. We were talking about the myriad changes we imagined that would come to public education with technology and shifting infrastructures. Renee Moore brought up the issue of equity of access to high quality education as we blend face-to-face and online learning environments.

Then late in the day, Shannon C’de Baca said, “In all of these changes, someone has to sort it all out and make sure that we are going in the right direction; that what we call progress benefits all children in their learning. Someone has to be the keeper of the flame.” We began to imagine teacher leaders as the keepers of the flame, the protectors of public education for all.

Joetta’s right—money and corporate interests can complicate and confuse things, often providing quick fixes that seem to answer persistent funding and salary issues in schools and in teachers’ lives. As teacher leadership roles open up and we stand closer to the many other interests that guide decisions made for our schools, it’s important to keep our eyes wide open and make sure we lead toward what we know is best for our students.

 

[Image credit: http://future.teacherleaders.org/]