After nine years of faithful blogging for Education Week Teacher—tackling everything from state standards to parent-teacher conferences to aggressive airplane-seat reclining—retired educator Nancy Flanagan has written her 500th and final post for the website.
Teacher in a Strange Land was one of the first educator-penned blogs on the Education Week Teacher site, and has
long been one of the most popular. Flanagan, who taught K-12 music classes for 30 years and was Michigan’s teacher of the year in 1993, became known in the edu-blogging community for her candor and sharp criticism of education “reform” measures, including the expansion of charter schools and the focus on student test scores.
She’s a strong defender of the daily hard work teachers do, and a skeptic of attempts by non-educators to shape or demean that work.
“There’s something about Teacher Appreciation Week that smacks of a pat on the head for being willing to go the distance without adequate compensation or support,” she wrote in May 2018, amidst large-scale teacher protests in several states. “We’re supposed to persist and excel ‘for the kids'—a phrase that teachers rightfully perceive as specious and manipulative. ... Maybe teachers are ready to demand what they need and deserve, rather than hang around hoping to be ‘appreciated’ every May.”
Her honesty didn’t always win her friends, but it certainly got people talking.
“Right from the start, Nancy’s writing was engaging, fierce, funny, and deeply informed,” said Anthony Rebora, the former managing editor for Education Week Teacher, who hired Flanagan to blog, in an email. “She really helped set the tone for the whole site, and she kept people coming back, even if—or maybe because—they didn’t always agree with her. ... She was a great partner in the work we were doing to try to elevate teacher voice.”
Below is a tour of some of Flanagan’s most popular posts over the years. Education Week is grateful for your many years of hard work and conversation-starting, Nancy!
A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.