Monday, February 25, 2013

A Big Meeting: Speaking Up

I have a big meeting planned to discuss ideas, questions and thoughts I have about our school system.  As I've mentioned before I see potential everywhere, and feel like I have to share my vision with leadership since while the system does great work, we hold potential for even greater growth and effect.

Some have advised me to accept what is, and do my best in the current environment.  I can't follow that advice as I know that small changes can lead to wonderful promise for students.  All that I read points to the fact that we must speak up when we see potential for positive growth and change, and I'm following that advice.

Others say, why don't you move to leadership if you have all those ideas.  I believe that the role of classroom educator can be a role that includes vision for systems, organization and betterment.  I believe that my best attributes are related to serving children well, yet I don't think that should put me in the position of follower--I believe that classroom teachers need to be "activators" as Hattie expresses in Making Learning Visible for Teachers; we need to have a voice with regard to the organizations we work in and the work we do.  The old notions of teachers as "assembly line workers" is not a notion that pushes education forward or teaches students well, yet it's a notion very much alive in schools both in the minds of educators and leaders.

Leaders who do not elicit teacher voice, share their ideas for change or collaborate with educators when planning new curriculum, support the factory model.  Similarly teachers who say, "Just tell me what to do," or "I'm dumb" (yes, I heard a teacher say that after a meeting where she was made to feel that way) also contribute to that model.  Instead new, dynamic systems for communication, decision making, innovation and education will redefine roles of educators and leaders in schools--ways that will serve to bring education forward in optimal ways.

It's difficult to speak up from my position as a classroom teacher in schools today, but I always look at things from the "whole life view" which makes me ask the question: "At the end of my life, will I be pleased that I spoke up, or will I wish I would have stayed quiet."  If speaking up respectfully and thoughtfully means that schools might improve, then it's worth the effort.  Surely, if I don't speak up, ideas that have the potential for positive change will not be considered.  Hence, I've made a choice to have a "big meeting" and speak up.  Let's see what happens.