I have always considered creating a set of New Year’s Resolutions for myself but found it quite silly. I could never really understand how a calendar date could make so much difference in my life. After all it’s just another day or possibly another year. Resolutions are about change and change can be uncomfortable for many people. Education is currently going through a big change that is causing tremendous discomfort for many teachers and students. Unfortunately, education is not in the hands of educators. Those most qualified to make decisions about education are not at the table when policies and laws surrounding education are created. This is not new information to teachers. What might be new is a set of resolutions for teachers; I propose that we as teachers develop some new behaviors for ourselves that we can use throughout 2014 to raise the profile of our profession and change the conversation around the work that we do everyday.
Here are a few of my ideas:
- Teachers should tell their friends and family exactly what they do on any given day. Now, this could come across as whining so we might need to monitor the tone. Discussions should include the purpose behind the actions taken by teachers. The biggest teacher allies are the community of friends and family that surround the teacher.
- Reject teacher martyrdom. This simply means taking the opportunity to engage in conversation with the people that say things like “teachers are saints” or “ teachers do it for the students”. These statements, although meant to be reassuring and thankful, are often clues to the reality of the teaching structure. It is true that teachers make personal sacrifices for the sake of their classrooms and students; this should never be the expectation. Teaching is a profession, not a philanthropic venture.
- Celebrate genuine accomplishments and growth; the culture of schools is quickly becoming adversarial, with data often becoming the only conversation promoted by professional development. Take the time to support colleagues, share ideas, reflect on practice with others and honor each other for successes.
- Learn to advocate, teachers often say that they are not political or that they don’t want to get involved in politics. All politics are local; teachers can be very influential on their school campuses. They are also natural leaders in the classroom; it’s not that far of a leap to enter into the world of educational advocacy. Teachers should consider taking some time this year to craft a political message and elevator speech. What might a legislator need to know about the daily operations of our profession? Who might benefit from hearing our insights? How might we get that message out?
I am interested in hearing about some of your resolutions for raising the teaching profession.