Thursday, June 22, 2017

Teaching Next Year: Stay Strong and Focused

My voice, research, creativity, and effort are not regarded well by the leadership in the system where I teach. They essentially degrade my ideas, ignore my achievements, and disrespect my efforts. This has been a long standing experience, and anyone who reads my blog knows that I've been working with administrators who do not value me for a long time.

Fortunately parents, students, and community members value me. They see my work upfront and know that I am invested in teaching students well. My family members similarly value the work I do, and support me. This is all good.

I can't continually get down by the way I'm disrespected on a daily basis, and while some advise me to leave my position, that is not a good choice at this time in my career for a number of personal and financial reasons.

So what's a teacher to do?

First, I have to distance myself from the disrespect. I have to follow the dictates of a large number of administrators, and as much as possible, going forward, I'll do what they tell me to do as long as it does not include anything that will harm a child. If their requests cross the bar of safety to children or contractual agreements, I'll seek union support.

Second, I'll work to contract. Thank goodness we have a contract that outlines our professional responsibility--I'll follow that.

Third, I'll dedicate myself to what I can do in my classroom with and for students, and I'll gain my learning and growth from my many education-related activities outside of the school as I'm a member of many teaching/learning groups.

Fortunately I work with a dynamic team and I'll continue to work with and learn from these dynamic educators. I also work with wonderful families and terrific children who are ready and willing to collaborate with regard to serving children well.

While I note injustice around me, I will not speak up about it unless it is illegal, affects human dignity or challenges safety for children or colleagues. As for all the ridiculous things that happen, I'll turn my cheek in another direction. Earlier this year, I had to speak up when our contract was illegally broken by administrators. Fortunately our union was able to confront those that broke the contract and remedy the situation.

Teaching well is challenging and rewarding work. At its best it's a team effort that's well supported by many. Unfortunately in many school systems, there is undue pressure, oppression, and quieting that occurs which keeps teachers down, limiting what we can do. I hope that families, citizens, educators, and others will advocate for more modern systems of leadership and effort--flattening the hierarchies that exist and replacing them with learning communities that value the voice and choice of all stakeholders.

In the meantime, and over the summer, I'll find some reprieve and a chance to research and study to continue honing my practice and serving students and families well on my own and with my colleagues. Onward.