Yet, many sit back and don't respond, and still more of us may respond, but not with the strength, confidence, solidarity, or research needed to make a promising effect.
What should one do?
First, don't let a good idea go to waste. Share it. Put it out there. Gain reaction, make revision, and continue to build. Too often people fear ideas or relegate ideas to only a few, yet the world is hungry for good ideas and good ideas come from multiple perspectives, people, and places. No one has the monopoly on good ideas.
Next, seek to build ideas with others. Find a like-minded group and work as a team to build a good idea and make change.
Also, don't fear a new idea. So many are afraid to take a risk on a new idea even if the risk is not that big or troubling. Still people fear new ideas. I know that every time I tackle a new idea, I fear it too. I worry about putting a new idea out there. I wonder, What will others think? Yet if I know the idea has merit, I put it out there and see what kind of support, comments, or critique I get. Then if I get a bit of support, I'll likely grow the idea more.
Yes, a new idea often means more work upfront, but if it's a good idea, it will create better opportunity and greater success in the long run. A new idea I'm working on now is a way to build a more fluid teacher-parent community, one in which we know the families of the students we teach well enough to serve all of their children well. In some cases this is already present in my school community, and in other cases, particularly where language, geography, or cultural distances occur, I think we can do a better job.
I put the idea out there. I got some good response and further ideas. The next step is to see if we can get something going for the new year in order to deepen what we can do for all families and students. The merit this idea holds includes the following:
- Better family-school relationships typically result in more student engagement, empowerment, and success.
- Better family-school relationships typically means that less time is lost on family-school conflict and more time is gained for family-school collaboration.
- Better family-school relationships means more people are invested in the school, and that means there are more adults contributing to the overall success of the school. In cases like this it's not just teachers serving students but instead a dynamic school community where students, families, educators, administrators, and the greater school community serve one another to teach and learn well.
Today there are many ways to respond!
There's also many ways that educators can hone their voice in order to respond and advocate for betterment in schools.
I've been fortunate to be apart of many of these organizational efforts in the past few years, and I would recommend these programs to you as an educator in order to develop your response and advocacy skills:
- Teacher Leadership Initiative
- TeachPlus Online Policy-Practice Course
- TeachPlus Fellowship (I have not participated in this, but it seems to be a worthy endeavor)
- MTA Next Generation Leadership (For MA Teachers)
- ECET2-MA2016 - I am on the team planning this event
I'm sure there are many other opportunities out there to support educator choice and voice in ways that help us to respond in ways that help us reach our students with strength. If you know of others, please let me know.
In the meantime, I encourage you to respond with your ideas for positive change and service. Too often we stay mired in systems, policies, structures, and decisions that could be better and the first step towards that betterment is speaking up and sharing your idea. Then you can go from there.