This post has been developing over time. The seed for this was planted many years ago within my own family. I received my formative education from public education while my siblings received theirs from private education. While I could start from this experience to develop this post, I would rather move to the most recent events that have spurred this post.
Every year our district brings the entire district staff together for convocation to “kick off” the new year. Each year we have incredible key note speakers. This year was no exception when we were gifted with speaker Jaimie Vollmer. In his address he encouraged us to take action to change education and the common misguided public perception through the “Great Conversation” (Outlined in his website). While there are formal avenues he suggests, what resonated with me and was actionable by all educators were 4 steps. The 4 steps (which are also found on his website) were:
1. Shift your attention from the negative to the positive.
2. Stop bad-mouthing one another in public.
3. Share something positive within our social network.
4. Monitoring our progress.
This stirred my passion and love for the profession that I have committed my life to and gave me new resolve.
My thread of thinking was further influenced by a chat on #sunchat a few weeks back that discussed bullying among colleagues. I am not too naive to believe it doesn’t happen but to the extent that some shared broke my heart. Why it happens I don’t care to really know. What upset me is that ultimately it hurts our students… the reason we do what we do. So to add to Mr. Vollmer’s list, I suggest:
5. Work together toward our common goal, students. (Not against one another… leave our egos at the front door of the school.)
Then, this week I had a conversation with a campus principal. We have been through the amazing program together called “Coaching for Results” where we transparently shared our passions, fears and truly listen to one another. She shared with me concerns with how public education is perceived and how it is not accurate of what an amazing job educators are doing day in and day out across this country. We agreed with one another that changing public perception is a responsibility all educators should feel charged to take on and take action. Out of that came an additional point:
6. Public perception can be changed by each one of us one conversation at a time. (This can also relate back to Jaimie Vollmer’s point #3.)
Finally, on September 6th, 2013 CBS aired the documentary “Teach.” As I watched, cried, laughed and had conversations simultaneously on Twitter and Facebook (a.k.a. back-channeling), I asked myself why is this so powerful to me and my fellow colleagues? I think it was because, for the first time, the “struggle was witnessed” and the “passion was honored” in what we do day in and day out. They presented the reality of our profession, the passion of our commitment and the hope that never wavers. But there isn’t a weekly documentary that can build our spirits, provide us a source of encouragement, and “just in time” help. That brings me to the final point:
7. Participate in positive collaborative groups, i.e. Twitter PLN chats, or organizations that support us and help us stay the course.
As we go into another week as “instructional designers” determining the best way to develop students’ desire for learning, my hope is that we also take action to share our “work” with the world. We have been charged to develop the learners of today into the leaders of tomorrow by helping students discover their passions. We coach them to have resilience and grit as they approach challenges today and in the future. Does anyone beyond your classroom know how awesome you are?
Brag on yourself, brag on your colleagues, and brag on your school. YOU are the positive PR that will begin to change the public’s perception of public education.
Please leave your ideas, comments, and/or thoughts below.
Guggenheim, Davis, prod. “Teach.” Teach Documentary. CBS. Nationwide, 6 Sept. 2013. Television.
Sackstein, Starr (moderator), Twitter, “Bullying in the Workplace”, #sunchat, 8 Sept. 2013.
Volmer, Jamie. “”The Great Conversation”” Jamie Vollmer. Jamie Vollmer, Inc., n.d. Web. 15 Sept. 2013.
YouTube. Prod. Soul Pancake. Perf. Kid President. PepTalk to Students and Teachers. Soul Pancake- You Tube, 12 Sept. 2013. Web. 15 Sept. 2013.