One of my favorite skits on Saturday Night Live was “Coffee Talk,” in which a Mike Meyers-inspired character, Linda Richman, praised the likes of Barbara Streisand, said everything “looked like butta,” and encouraged viewers to “talk amongst themselves” with a one-word command: “discuss.”
Yes, the characters on this mock-talk show were stereotypically Jewish and their New York accents and mannerisms were exaggerated – but their thoughts on current affairs were accurate. They were lovable too.
In education, public school teachers are being stereotyped and exaggerated as lazy, union-clinging employees who are more concerned about tenure than increasing student achievement. Thankfully, like Linda Richman, our views are accurate. We’re lovable too.
Too often we (teachers) aren’t given a forum to talk amongst ourselves about the current happenings in education. Too often we aren’t able to articulate what is even happening in education. This is, mostly, because we spend large amounts of our time doing our job – which is concentrating on the needs of our students. Suppose though, for a moment, that we are invited to a state or national conversation about education. (Humor the thought process here). Could we articulate how we fit in? If a microphone were placed in front of us, would we be able to give a voice to pressing issues that affect our students, schools and/or communities?
If you could craft ONE message to highlight ONE burning issue in education right now, what would it be?
Last week, I found a Monday night forum in which I can craft my message (coming in another blog post). The AZK12 Center has created a space for discussion about Diane Ravitch’s book, The Death and Life of the Great American School System. In this book club, I’ve met a passionate group of educators who are anything but lazy. Their desire to increase student achievement and meet the needs of their students is inspiring; Though a bit verklempt at the end of Monday nights, I’ve returned to work on Tuesday mornings re-energized and ready to tackle another day as an urban educator.
Teachers: I implore you to seek out and find spaces in which you can craft *your* message. Then, shout it from the rooftops of your schools, homes, and places of worship.
Now go discuss.