How Far Have We Come?

Teaching is all about small steps of progress that over time make big differences. My writing students first come to me most years with an unclear idea of where their skills are as writers. This time of year, when I have them look back at their writing from the beginning of the year, they are able to see their improvement. They say things like, “I can’t believe I thought I was a great writer at the beginning of the year” or “I thought I was good, but I had no idea why I thought that.”

In many ways it’s the same with the profession. While there are many groups calling for education reform and calls for change,  when there is not drastic change that occurs right away people call foul and say that teachers aren’t doing their jobs. I believe this is partially our fault as teachers.

For far too long we have said that we will simply shut our doors and not paid heed to the changing tide. This has made our profession largely misunderstood. Because our client, the public, does not understand the many moving parts of educating our children, many assumptions and judgements are made that are off base.

I believe it is up to us, as teachers, to elevate our profession. I believe it is through our stories that we can elevate it.

But we must be careful in how we tell our stories. To vent, to complain, to say that we are misunderstood only feeds fuel to the fire. While we must be truthful, we also must understand that the narrative we tell must be one that elevates and does not further polarize.

It was this reason that I started a blog two years ago on a different platform. I felt I needed to tell the stories of my classroom to show what it’s really like to be a writing teacher. I wanted to do my small part to bring transparency to the profession I care so deeply about and believe with my whole heart is the center of democracy.

I post on Twitter because I also believe it is important for us educators to stick together, to find our way together, to figure out and share what is good and what is powerful together. There is power in groups of people who bring their best ideas forward. There is power in knowing that I have a professional learning network that I can ask a question to and they’ll come running with more answers than I’ll know what to do with.

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