Recently I read an article from The Huffington Post titled – “5 Ways Educators Can Take Back Their Professional Narrative” – that really got me thinking about the public perception of teachers and education. Several things stood out to me about this article, and the one thing I really liked was the author, Dr. Chester Goad, provided solutions and ideas rather than just complaining. He suggests:
- Don’t hate. Educate
- Engage in academic research and discourse.
- Change classrooms
- Protect the reputation of the profession
- Love it or leave it
While I don’t agree with all of Dr. Goad’s suggestions and opinions, it’s a good starting point to begin the conversation about how educators have to take some ownership over the state of education and how we can work together to raise it up to the level it deserves.
As an educator, it’s very easy to get frustrated when you hear comments like, “Yeah, but you only work 9 months out of the year!” Anyone who has ever taught knows that we work all year round updating curriculum and assessments, attending workshops and training, shopping for new classroom supplies, setting up our classroom, etc. But what we know and what the public knows are often worlds apart. It’s the reality that folks think they know about education because they have all gone through the process of schooling. And while it’s true that everyone has an experience with school, they are not all experts. After all, I have had an experience with the dentist, but I don’t claim to tell the dentist how to do his job.
Regardless, utilizing the voices we have to change the narrative and eventually the perception is a huge part of helping educators feel more empowered. It’s important that we’re not just “complaining” because it’s too easy for people to dismiss us when we do that. This year I am focusing on listening more and finding the positive. Beyond that, I also want to be results-oriented. Who better to have the best ideas on how to improve education than those who are doing the work? I want to share my thoughts and listen to other teachers’ ideas. Bringing these ideas – and sharing what we’re already doing that works – to policy makers and stakeholders is the only way we can change the narrative.