If your days are anything like mine than you must feel as though you are surrounded by a constant static of incoming information. Perhaps if I were more disciplined I would force the static to halt by mediating, praying, or simply powering down. I am not able to stop, unless someone or something makes me, and this past week I am grateful that Michele Norris was that force. I attended the LearningForward Conference (formerly known as National Staff Development Council) in Atlanta. Tuesday afternoon our keynote speaker was Michele Norris, NPR journalist, and author of The Grace of Silence.
Minutes after she began to speak I turned my phone off, turned my chair, and stopped the static to listen. She spoke of how her history shaped the woman she is today. She spoke of work ethic. She spoke of race. She spoke of the war on public education, and then she paused and stated, "Teachers are not the masters of their own image. You never pitch your stories." I sat there repeating her words over and over again. I closed my eyes. When I opened them I whispered to myself, "that's why I teach, why I support teachers, why I continue to dream, because I want to be the master of our image. Through my work I am pitching our story."
Here's my pitch for my image of my life's work: I know that in an effort to make teaching more scientific, we have diminished the art of teaching. I know that a "continual growth model" is more effective in moving a teacher's practice forward than a "deficit model." I have experienced the erosion of teacher efficacy when teaching has been formatted into a checklist to scrutinize daily lessons. I have learned that the title of "Consultant" does not deem that person as the single expert for a district. I know that greatest sign of a leader is when they can say "I don't know." My day to day work cultivates these statements. When I fail at staying true to my "pitch" then I know my image, our image, has been tarnished.
My image, our image, is far too critical to risk. So, I encourage you to stop and ponder your image, your story. What is your image? What is your story?