By Hillary Greene @ The Washington Post’s – The Answer Sheet
This op-ed piece from a growing teacher Hillary Greene expresses the thoughts and realizations with which every teacher must eventually wrestle, I think, recognizing that the job is not simply about teaching. They are difficult crossroads and usually takes a few years before any teacher is capable of stumbling onto them, let alone selecting which road to take. However, Greene serves as a nice model for the conversation.
I am convinced that we, as teachers, must be activists. While we all forge personal identities inside the classroom, the diversity of which our kids love and enjoy, we must conceive of ourselves as education activists too. We have, at the same time, front row seats to and lead roles in education today. We are school reform. If we make ourselves aware of policy, trends, and plans that occur outside of the classroom, then we can preserve our autonomy and ability to lead inside the classroom.
I have frequently made the comment, “We are in the teaching business,” which is meant to mean that teaching is what we do, in many ways who we are. I should probably rephrase the sentiment because of the “business” connection. Perhaps a better phrase is “We are teachers and we must teach” or “We are in the practice of teaching.” Nevertheless, this piece is a reminder of what knowledgeable and veteran teachers are truly called to do.
We must teach others, especially outside of education, about the complexities inherent in the teaching of human beings. We must teach those ignorant of better ways to improve education. We must prove the perils of flawed models and metaphors that oversimplify or ill-fit with how students best learn, as well as what is worthy of being taught. We must, as Greene puts it, “advocate for our students and for ourselves.”
If we choose to not be activists and advance our story, as history well teaches us all, someone will advance a story for us.