Wednesday, September 11, 2013


If you read my blog, you know that I believe systematic change holds promise for teaching children well. I believe a lot of the long-held structures, schedules, and systems can be revised, enriched, replaced, and/or streamlined to better serve students. I believe this is potentially a great time for education--the tools available are amazing, learning access is better than ever, and there's more community support since so many people from all walks of life know education matters.

With this in mind, I've invested a lot of time thinking about new systems and structure to move schools forward.  I've been outspoken about systems which I believe can be enriched or improved as well as systems that require replacement.  I dove into the State's new teacher evaluation system with strength to find out if Massachusetts is moving in the direction of research.  I've met with Union and school administrators to learn about the system and advocate for win-win teacher--leader information and access.

I like this work, creativity, and problem solving, and feel that my daily work with children gives me a front row seat to what really matters to students and schools. Yet, my role as a teacher serves to hinder my work in this regard because for many this work is seen as leader-work, not the work of classroom teachers. For many, the classroom teacher is the implementer, not the thinker, creator, or problem solver.  For many, classroom teachers are looked down upon if they ask questions, share information, or have ideas--in fact, some even see this as an embarrassment and wonder, Why is a teacher getting involved in this work.

Of course I don't agree with these sentiments, but these sentiments are a reality in schools throughout the country.  I talk with many teachers from diverse systems, and many face the same challenges. Few listen to teachers or make the time to include teachers in decisions that impact their daily work and efforts, and if teachers are given voice, the situation is often scripted, contrived, and already completed.  One practical reason that teachers have little voice is that many decisions are made while teachers are unavailable because they are spending most of their time each day with time-on-task efforts with children while others are spending that time making decisions.

I've expressed these sentiments before.  Usually this type of blog post arises when a valued idea or effort has been dismissed, used without credit, or demeaned.  Without idea systems and share protocols, many ideas are met with those reactions.  These kinds of idea responses show others that it is not a good idea to share ideas offering a kind of warning.  These reactions also serve to put me in my place, the classroom.

So once again I've been rerouted--it's cause for thought, analysis, and redirection. I'll once again take a break from big ideas, innovation, and debate and focus on my students' individual needs.  It's challenging to meet students' needs when you don't feel like part of a greater team, but nevertheless I'll do my best.  I'll throw my energy into meeting new standards in ways that engage, excite, and teach children well.  I have a great class of eager learners and supportive parents.  Onward.