I knew that I was going to be busier than any other conference that I attended. I knew was I was going to get to connect with people that I’ve been connecting with for several years virtually. I knew that I was going to hear dynamic speakers like Daniel Pink, Diane Ravitch, Sarah Wessling, Arne Duncan, and Pedro Noguera. And let’s not forget about the amazing Save Our Schools March.
With all of these events, speakers, and activities, my mind has been struggling to find a single thought and lesson that I can take away from all of this outstanding professional development….I am on overload. However, as the conference was winding down last night a thought came to me. I need to do a better job of having my voice heard. That may seem strange considering all of the speaking, blogging, social media and PD in which I engage on a regular basis. But, as I was sitting in the final activity, I realized that I need to be better at practicing what I preach.
In my classroom, I am always encouraging my students to share their voice through their writing, their work, their projects, their collaborations. I listen to their voices grow stronger through the school year. I let them voice their opinions and guide their choices in the classroom. Shouldn’t I be putting my money where my mouth is, so to speak?
I think as educators, many of us have been threatened with our jobs if students’ standardized test scores don’t rise or if we don’t teach scripted programs to fidelity. Fear has been used to try to make educators compliant and time and again it has been proven ineffective. It’s ineffective because good educators are not doing the job for pay or incentives. We do it because we are passionate about giving our students the best education that we can… in spite of the challenges, lack of support and difficulties.
So although I do speak up on occasion, I plan on making a much more concerted effort to stand up for what is right for our students. I am going to show them through my example what it means to have your voice heard because they are the ones who are ultimately being affected. My legislators (and administrators) are going to know me by name and they are going to see the work my students do. There are many more educators than there are elected officials. It is up to us to be the voice of change. Things will not change by just talking about it amongst ourselves. We must speak up. Our students can’t wait. Who’s with me?