Teacher voices, like yours and mine

John,

Thanks for the high praises. Always appreciated. The event you mentioned is sponsored largely by voices like yours and mine. Here’s something I continually push for in our position as people writing for the future: we need to invest heavily in the teacher voice. My godmother-I-wish-I-actually-had Renee Moore wrote an excellent piece about her emergence as the awesome teacher she is, and the spiritual journey that accompanied that emergence. It shook my heart reading it because it reminded me how important our work to elevate teacher voice is.

As I told you in my last post, I had the privilege of seeing the creators and assessors of the Common Core State [and possibly National] Standards this past week at Orlando’s GE Futures of Education Conference. As I sat there watching presenter after intelligent presenter, it occurred to me that during this process, I had seen only one K-12 educator speak about their experiences in the classroom.  Some districts allowed teachers to offer their opinions, but in too many others, their efforts were ignored or shunned by the very people who should work on teachers’ behalf. While I do believe strongly in building coalitions with non-educators of like interest, I also see how detrimental such a relationship is when the other comes to the table without a decent amount of respect and/or knowledge about the efforts of the teachers on the front lines.

For that reason, our work won’t stop after this weekend. We must continue to insist on being equal partners in the lives of our children. While critics ask why teachers don’t get the same treatment in terms of job security, they often ignore how devalued a teaching professional’s voice gets in the midst of our ostensible leaders. Where I often critique my own union leaders is in here as well. While we pay union dues to assure that we have some advocacy for our rights, I also see where they could teach their own members how to advocate effectively for their classrooms and their schools.

For instance, we need to lend our voices around the instructional pieces of these discussions. We must discuss working conditions, testing, and rights as professionals, but we have enough people that we don’t have to lose our linchpin. We have to continue pushing the idea that, as trained professionals, we will put forth our greatest efforts and continue working towards becoming the best professionals for the 12-20-30-40 students in front of us daily. Even during the creation of Teaching 2030, many of us struck different notes about this realistic future we sought to build together.

But only one thing mattered: our voices collaborated in harmony.

The American public in general trusts their local teachers, and teachers are often ranked amongst the most trusted public servants in this country. We have an audience willing to listen. And they don’t even have to raise their hands for us to call on them. We just have to say things like we mean them.

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