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Sunday, April 20, 2014

Give Me Back My Profession!

When I started teaching in the mid 90's, I remember hearing the stories of my more experienced colleagues about their protests and union lines, marches, and even those they knew that went to jail so that we could have the profession as we knew it.  They legitimized one of the most important professions there is. They put their salaries and jobs on the line.  They put their reputations on the line.  Why?  Someone had to stand up for the children.  The profession is about the children.  I "got it" as much as a twenty-something newer teacher could.  I did think it sounded a bit dramatic. 

Ha.  Here I am.  I am screaming as loudly as I can for my students and my profession.  This isn't right.  What's happening in eduction is wrong.  It is bad for children.  It is bad for teachers, facilitators, and leaders.  Common Core State Standards, PARCC, SGO's (be glad if some of these acronyms are foreign to you), Pearson, Common Core kits, data collection -- mostly for the sake of collecting data, etc.  I'm putting my reputation on the line every time I speak or write my feelings about this topic. This is not how to energize, guide, or inspire our future generations.  They are our problem-finders.  They will change the world.  It will not happen through analyzing the data.  This data does not inform our teaching.  This is big business.

Now, when I share some facts, past and present, to the newer career teachers they look at me with that "is she done yet" smile.  Then they see me as the alien older teacher who is fighting what we were told to do.  What we have to do.  No we don't!  That's what I'm trying to tell you.  This is not what teaching looks like.  This is not what teaching sounds like.  This is not how teachers feel about teaching.  Our kids deserve more.  No matter how great the school, its teachers, and its leaders, it will change.  It already is. 

Ask a teacher you know.  Ask them almost anything about teaching.  Used to be, "My kids are so funny this year!"  Or they may jibe, "I've got quite an active group (with a chuckle)."  I bet now your answers, even the positive ones, all begin with a huge sigh.  A sigh of sadness and discontentment.  That alone affects our students. 

This is still one of the most noble of professions.  So hold your head up.  Do the paperwork.  But do your homework, too.  Find out more so you can fight for what your students really need.  You are the only one who will.