Recently, I had the opportunity to sit around a table with a group of educators. As usual I really didn’t say much. I have often felt as though what I had to say was irrelevant or my choice of words lacked the finesse of an English teacher. My silence was not due to lack of engagement, I listened to every word, took notes and had many silent ah-has that could have only been detected by fellow diners as the raising of an eyebrow or a pursing of the lips.
Ironically, my invitation to this dinner was also an invitation to share my voice as an educational blogger. When I was first asked to join this group as a blogger I immediately felt fear. My fears were intertwined with everything that I knew I didn’t know. I was not “up” on the latest policy or the newest educational books. More than that my biggest fear was that I would alienate others. Teachers are supposed to be noble almost martyrs. How could I write about what I was thinking when I felt that I knew so little?
I felt a growing isolation as a professional; often lost, frustrated and always silent. I was not a tired or angry teacher, just disconnected. Disconnected from the conversation because I had been focused on what I thought I could control, my classroom. The problem quickly became that many foreign voices to education were intruding in my classroom; their voices were louder than mine. Those foreign voices started to decide what should happen in my classroom. These were not the voices of the families I served or even fellow teachers, but outsiders that did not know what my students needed. I still remained silent, I did not speak, and I did not make them aware of my thoughts. They must have assumed that I agreed with them.
I chose to leave the conversation in favor of a peaceful retreat. I avoided dialogue that I thought might have been too controversial or that may have led to disagreements. I tried to keep the peace at all costs. It has cost me a lot; I lost my way. I began to question my purpose as a teacher and my role as an advocate. I started thinking about the voice of education. Who might be the voice of education? This question eluded me for quite a while. I thought it might possibly need to be parents or communities.
Just before surrendering to the idea of communities needing to be the voice of education I heard, “ If not me then who?”, from a fellow teacher. My head shifted as I quickly replayed those words in my head, what had I been waiting for? Why had I devalued my voice? I realized that this was not the time to remain silent. I am an educator, an expert in my classroom, a colleague that fellow teachers go to for support and a member of a learning community that extends throughout the state. If not me then who? The time has come for me to use my own voice as an educator, put my own thoughts out there, and use my own face as the face of education for my students and myself. Who is more qualified to speak on the topic of education than a teacher?
Those that know me, know that I am quite stubborn once I decide on a course of action. I’ve decided to join this educational blog and am going to keep writing and coming back because this once quiet teacher has a lot more to say.
Cat got your tongue?