Like its sister-term, “accountability,” the term “reform” has had a few minutes of fame in education this year (see this swell piece by blogger-extraordinaire Nancy Flanagan). Here, Flanagan blatantly opens her piece with the statement, “Hello my name is Nancy and I’m an education reformer.” When I first read her opening line, my gut reaction was “boo-hiss,” but then the scholarly side of my brain started to wonder. . .
Am I an education reformer? If reform means to “improve or amend what is wrong, corrupt, or unsatisfactory” – then heck YES I’m an education reformer! Every day I work on the front lines (that’s in the classroom for you non-teaching-types) to combat the napalm-effects of the current top-down trends that have burned their way through my state, district, and campus. (There are singe marks on my classroom door but no burning has happened yet).
What are my reform-weapons-of choice to batten down the hatches? What I know about my students and practice. The intense reflection process that the National Board has taught me. The countless hours I’ve dedicated to embedding Cognitive Coaching into everything I do. The parties I have when students just show up to sit for AP exams that I *know* will kick their rear ends because we have no cures for poverty or social injustice. The biggest weapon, lately, has been the smile I wear as my students step over the blackened soot I’ve let pile in the hall to maintain a magical place where learning is still relevant, fun, and free of Death Eaters (yes, that was a Harry Potter reference).
Alaina Adams: Education Reformer. If fits – thank you Nancy
So , if I am a reformer, what does that make the current edu-figure-heads that tout themselves as reformers? I’d like to introduce the word DEformers as a better fit. DEFORM: “to disfigure or mar the natural shape of; to make ugly, ungraceful, displeasing, or to spoil the beauty of.” Yup. That pretty much sums up what’s happening in education right now.
Please: join authentic education reform movements in whatever circles you can. I mean, really, who wants to be called a DEformer?