I always tell people I have the best job in the world. I have autonomy. I am respected to make sound decisions based on the needs of my students. I have choice and a voice that I am encouraged to use. I have time to create lessons, facilitate discussions, envision graduate courses and then execute them with amazing professionals. I am trusted. This gives me hope.
I wish every teaching professional could say the same thing. My work is centered in the idea that we learn by doing and so whatever I am teaching or doing I engage in myself first be that a reading assignment, a writing assignment or something that I will be teaching to students.
Ultimately it all comes down to purpose: the why and the how of the whole thing. And yet I find myself fighting for sites in which to work. Moving upstream against a current that has such great momentum that is would seem there is no hope. Imagine that not many years ago our Learning Through Teaching graduate level course were in over 30 schools in the area from New Hampshire, Massachusetts and up into Maine. We had a great many talented consultants and our outreach was far and wide.
Our model was “in vogue” as it empowered teachers and brought them together within their own schools for professional reading, writing and dialogue. Slowly over the years, the demand has not lessened but the funding has dried up. The professional development of our teachers is one of the last things on a long list of budget demands.
But there is always hope. In fact I saw it in my class just last week. This group is a unique group of educators who meet monthly to discuss a common professional reading in my home. They receive graduate credit for their work, but more than that they receive support in a way that they cannot find elsewhere.
One teacher actually commented that she found herself wanting to be careful in talking with other teachers at her school about our course because they did not have the same network of support. So on the one hand she wants to rave about what is a critical part of her ongoing professional development, but on the other hand she feels she cannot.
Another teacher was literally brought to tears as she expressed how lonely and isolated she was feeling in her own classroom and frustrated with the lack of thinking and keeping students in mind.
But, these teachers, after reading Readicide by Kelly Gallagher, immediately shifted their focus on reading to include the love of reading and celebrating that with students. And you might think, really? Isn’t that just a given? And the answer is not anymore!! This shift brought them back to themselves and who they know they are as educators. And their students responded in kind coming into school proclaiming,
“I finished my book last night and it was amazing!! What should I read next?” And we, together as a group, celebrated these moments.
And in that one line there is hope! Can you see it? Just a glimmer? Honoring One Person’s Experience. Let’s follow that light. We are strong. We know what is best for our students and if we can ignite a sense of readership, writership and thinkership among them then we are slowly creating a new genre of students in the name of those who care, those who want to think, those who want to read, those who want to write and will…
And just like those Bostonians who ran towards the disaster and renewed our faith in human kind, let’s do the same for education kind. So in this spirit please share your “one liners” of HOPE from your students, administrators, parents whatever. What is being said to keep the hope alive? The HOPE Line is open and ready for business, Honoring One Person’s Experience at a time. What is yours?