Education Opinion

Hearing Voices

By Hanne Denney — April 25, 2008 1 min read

I hear so many voices every day. I hear students calling loudly to friends in the hall, and students whispering confidentially to me in class when they need help. I hear teachers complain and celebrate. I hear administrators express exhaustion, and in the next breath, explain plans for the move to excellence. Sometimes I hear myself in the cacophony, but it’s all too rare.

I’ve been reading the other blogs. Jessica Shyu let her voice express her guilt over leaving the classroom. Then, listening to herself, she was convinced she had made the right decision. She has the voice of a leader. Emmett Rosenfeld’s voice led him through the National Board Certification process, shared pain when the goal was not met, and then talked him through the reapplication process. He is now talking about his many other goals and projects. He has a loud voice, one worth listening to.

Dr. Kevin Maxwell, my district superintendent, spoke for three hours about his experiences as a leader to a group of “aspiring leaders”. I was in the audience. He shared his frustration about funding constraints and politicians, of course. But he also shared his excitement about being part of an educational team, and about his vision for excellence. When he was done, I felt optimistic about his leadership. His voice was sure of its direction.

I’m trying to listen to my own voice, which I have kept quiet this year. I’m in a new school, in a new position (department chair). I’ve paid attention to what everyone else in the school has been saying, to identify the school culture and climate. Now I think I have a handle on it – but the principal is retiring and the leadership will change, so perhaps the culture and climate will also.

If there is to be change, there is an opportunity for me. I have to voice my ideas. I believe my school has a distance to travel before we reach the levels of excellence our students need. I think we can achieve excellence, with all our students. I will work for it. I’m listening for my voice to tell me what to do.

I believe I’m going to start speaking louder.

The opinions expressed in In the Middle are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

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