Megan M. Allen
First of all, a big thank you to mbhirst for posing a great question and reframing our discussion. How can we launch the education of the public about education? We’ve debunked some myths ... but now what?
Below are a few starters to get the conversational ball rolling. Let’s begin a list of what educators can do to become “pro-education launch pads":
Bring light to the “invisible work” that educators do, as suggested by Sarah Brown Wessling. To name a few examples—the professional learning and reading, the reflecting with peers, the advocacy, the data analysis. This work must become more evident and apparent as the public realizes our job is not chanting the ABCs.
Highlight the expertise and “headiness” of being an educator. Teacher Ali Crowley lists how effective teaching is not just about having heart, but about developing expertise over time from collaboration, observation, reflection, and professional learning. There’s a ton of brainpower involved in being an educator, and that skill is developed over time.
Partner with stakeholders. Marym52 brought up this important point, and I have to say—it’s right on. I’ve been learning from and with many stakeholders lately. And guess what I’ve found out? Many of us have the same vision: a great public education for all students. Can’t wait to see where the educator/parent partnerships lead.
Engage politically. David Cohen makes the case that we can no longer stand back. We must be active. But I’m not talking about us all rearing up, burning our bras, and becoming rabble-rousers (big sigh). This can be small. Be informed. Have discussions. Encourage others to do the same.
Run for office. What better way to bring the perspective of the classroom teacher to the table than to actually grab a seat? I’m not suggesting we all go out and run for senate, but there are plenty of opportunities at the local level, such as the school board or city council.
Stop being modest. This is a tough one. It’s in our nature to focus on the students and not ourselves. We create fun and engaging lessons so students have powerful learning experiences, not so we can have attention. However, if we want to educate the public about the amazing things happening in our school, we can’t be shy. Call the local paper or news station the next time you have an exciting project or lesson that you’d like to share. At the very least, your students will enjoy a brief taste of fame.
Thanks to my Teaching Ahead colleagues, commenters, and to Michael Flynn, 2008 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year and Associate Director of SummerMath for Teachers, for raising such great insights about our can-dos. How are you already using the strategies above? Or what would you add to the list?
Megan M. Allen is a National Board-certified teacher in Tampa, Fla., where she serves as a teacherpreneur and teaches 5th graders.
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