Legislation, budget cuts, propositions, neighborhood walks, phone banking, Reduction in Force (RIF) notices, political action, national standards, evaluation, accountability. What do all of these words and phrases have in common? They have all been heard by teachers during their opening convocation ceremonies and/or campus staff meetings this year. (If I had transcripts of these meetings and put all of them into a Wordle Cloud, I’m betting that the phrase “budget cuts” would be the largest).
As I walked into my classroom for the first time this year, here are some things I heard from students: “I’m excited,” “I want to go to college,” “My older brother loved your class,” “I hear you use Google a lot,” “I’m interested in dual enrollment,” “I hear your class might kick my butt,” and “I’m ready for the challenge.”
It will be interesting to see how the smaller, more negatively connoted words teachers have heard from higher up the education food chain will impact the larger, more upbeat phrases they are hearing from their students. Though the educational climate is changing, the hopes and dreams of our students aren’t.
Will we be able to filter words like “political action” so that they trickle down to students in a positive way? As our states and school districts dash for cash, our standards and evaluation instruments are changing at lightning speeds. In this highly charged edu-storm, how will we maintain a positive course of learning for our students? As I move into week two in the classroom, I’m looking for a much-needed lighthouse.