I spent a couple of hours yesterday watching #educationnation and reading and participating a bit in the Twitter back channel. All of this while the Minnesota Vikings were playing football and that should give you an indication of my passion for teaching. If you know me, you know how much I like my Vikings…
But, I stuck with the show and the back channel. I didn’t participate at the level that I would normally since the discussion was around the American educational system, teacher unions, and a number of things that I really couldn’t comment on without context.
The notion that teachers were not necessarily organized was really foreign to me. All my teaching career, I was a proud member of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation first with District 34 and then District 9. I can’t imagine a system where working conditions and benefits aren’t collectively negotiated for the benefit of the system. I believe that it leads to stability in one’s life and ultimately one’s community knowing that you’re not a transient worker and that you can invest in home and community.
It quite bothered me listening to some of the comments coming from some of the panel members and, indeed, from teachers stepping up to the microphone. Some of the negative comments about colleagues will undoubtedly make for interesting staff room discussions today. The personal attacks really surprised me. I thought immediately of a comment that Wayne Hulley once made along the lines of “nobody wakes up wondering how I’m going to screw up today”.
It seems to me that true professionalism will only come when those involved are all on the same side, all rowing in the same direction. This includes teachers, administrators, principals, parents, and the bonus comes when you manage to get students onside as well. Maybe I’m just an idealist but I’ve always felt that way. As long as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to be a teacher. I’ve admired the teachers that were in my life and wanted to be just like them. Playing an online game with my daughter tonight led me to this screen.
I thought it was so appropriate since one discussion point in all of this is a movie entitled “Waiting for ‘Superman’”. Where in this list is the greatest profession of all “Teacher”?
If you watched the show, and believed the content, you’d walk away with the wrong impression. I can tell you – there ARE incredible classrooms, there ARE incredible teachers, there ARE incredible administrators, there ARE supportive parents – you know that.
In a way, I suppose that having the conversation is good. People are talking about education and that doesn’t happen regularly. But, I would implore those having the discussion – let’s also focus on what’s working and working well and could be working better. I don’t think anyone is naive enough to think that there’s not room for improvement for everyone and every situation. Let’s also celebrate the successes and understand why they are that way. Let’s replicate it with best practices that we know work and work well. Let’s offer workable solutions that will reap the benefits.
It would be nice if things would turn and “Teacher” becomes the #1 answer when the above question is asked in the future.