Everybody Knows

Mike Lee Uncategorized

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Everybody knows that she’s creative. Everybody knows that she’s got the ideas.

Everybody knows.

Well, at least the 28 miniature people that surround her know.  And, sometimes some colleagues. Sometimes, some parents.

But, rarely, policy makers.

Rarely, leaders that define her direction, or that of her collection of little people.

As the voice of Leonard Cohen echoes in your heads, stop to consider this: The answers are in the heads of our best and brightest teachers.  Unfortunately, those answers often haven’t made it to their lips.  And, they certainly aren’t in the ears of those who need to hear them the most.

I know some incredibly creative and smart teachers who get “it,” whatever “it” actually is. Unfortunately, only their students and a select few have the privilege of knowing it.  Often, the ones that drive policy have never set foot in a classroom, aside from the patronizing, if not well intentioned, “Teacher for a Day” charade.

These amazing teachers need to be heard.

I know.  They are busy.  They are tired.  They are even frustrated.  Most importantly, they don’t feel that their voice will matter.  But leading major change isn’t easy.  It’s often fronted by tired and frustrated people.

However, the leaders who history best remembers refused to accept that their voice couldn’t matter. Neither should we.

I believe we have entered a period where increasing frustration and distrust with bureaucratic systems is creating a demand for grassroots solutions like never before.  A time when the voice of the ones most respected can matter.  Further, the platforms for those voices are quickly emerging. For instance, Commit to Lead is a new idea sharing platform that is positioned to garner a great deal of attention, and is certainly being watched by everyone from Arne Duncan to local leaders.  The platform allows for teachers to collaborate and share, but also publicly highlight their capacity for problem-solving.  Crowd sourcing has taken the world by storm.  Why not leverage that power for change in education?

Those 28 little people should understand the brilliance of their highly-effective teacher.  But so should everyone else.

After all, everybody knows that it is time for change.


Mike Lee

Phoenix, Arizona

I am the Director of Outreach and Engagement for The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, and certified as a Middle Childhood Generalist in 2004. In 2012, I received my doctorate in educational leadership from Northern Arizona University, however, I began my work in education serving as a para-educator in a special education program while still an undergraduate. My passions in the field include assessment and reporting strategies, the evolving role of technology, teacher leadership, and effective professional development that permanently impacts instruction. I consider myself a professional teacher first, as well as a professionally evolving lifelong learner, who is incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to impact the lives of children.

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Comments 2

  1. Sandy Merz

    This reminds me of a depressing argument I had with three colleagues the other day. They were adamant that any smart hard working young person should NOT be encouraged to enter teaching. In fact, according to those colleagues, they should be actively discouraged. The notion that the best and the brightest are exactly who the profession needs most – not just to teach, but to lead the profession – would not even be considered.
    It’s one thing when an entrenched power structure is resistant to change, it’s quite another when teachers themselves fall in love with the problems we face and fight for their continued existence.
    Grumble Grumble.

  2. Jess Ledbetter

    Great comments Mike! I absolutely agree. I wanted to add that I see another problem: excellent teachers are often lured out of their classrooms into administration roles with the myth that they should be “making a bigger difference.” Though I deeply appreciate and admire the administrators on my campus, it makes me sad that there is an underlying message that the “gifted” teachers should leave the classroom. In my opinion, gifted teachers should be encouraged to stay in the classroom and mentor others or serve on leadership councils that provide opportunities for affecting greater change. Teachers don’t have to LEAVE their classrooms to make a difference. I love my classroom and plan to be a long-term teacher. No one will ever convince me that I could make a bigger difference elsewhere–because I can see the gigantic difference I make for my students and their families each year. Gigantic difference for a few is much more important than minimal difference for many in my humble opinion. (NOTE: Administrators out there–I love you and what you do so that I can pursue my passion of being in the classroom!)

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