Recently, a colleague of mine had the honor of speaking to teenagers about the power of becoming an educator. To prepare, she posted a Facebook status asking these questions: “Why should people pursue teaching degrees? Why should people teach in public schools?” I was struck by these questions and, not only posted a response to her questions, but I cross-posted it on my own Facebook page.
In a storm of hateful rhetoric and actions that have consumed our post-election country, I thought that dedicating this first blog of 2017 to something positive might help change the narrative about teaching as a viable profession. I also hope it fosters civil discourse about the dire need to keep our schools as safe places where students can find and use their voices to make positive change in the world.
Rather than post a long blog that outlines the outpouring of responses to the combined Facebook posts, I’m choosing to display the words in a visual way to allow readers to derive their own meaning. Like many educators, I’m a sucker for word clouds; I use them often to copy/paste/view things that I’m trying to examine from a different lens. Yes, I’ve put my dissertation into one. Yes, my students have copied and pasted presidential speeches and Twitter tirades into them to look for repeated words and patterns. Yes, they even did it with @realDonaldTrump’s Twitter feed.
In a word cloud, the largest words are the ones that appear the most frequently and are pretty telling. Take a look at the words in my word cloud at the top of this blog… follow the tilts and curves to make your own meaning – or try to make up your own sentences and post them in the comments section just for fun. (“Just teach enough passion” on the top left is one of my favorites).
The resounding message I’ve interpreted from friends and colleagues about why people should become teachers or work in public schools? Look towards the bottom right of the word cloud: “Live love.”