Another #BlAugust post, but this is an fired up post.
I was going to blog about my Knowing and Learning preparation today, but a comment from a college learner in my program made me more and more upset as I thought about it.
The learner (I redacted the name to protect them) said,
“I was just discussing this with another educator. He is an elementary school teacher in his third year of teaching. I’ve been buzzing a lot about how I am going to be an innovator in the classroom rather than passively following orders even if I disagree with the resulting pedagogical approaches. This educator essentially told me to “protect” myself by doing what I’m told.” (emphasis added)
Stop and think about that bolded sentence a moment. That means this three year veteran of the school district feels that he must protect his job by just following orders, regardless of what is best for the learners or learning. The teacher asked a follow up question,
“And when the parents complain? When administration comes after you? What then?”
The district here in my city is incredibly supportive. It is focused on learning, engagement, and encouraging teachers to take some risks and try to push boundaries in the best interest of the children. Yes, I have heard that at the elementary level the curriculum is more scripted, and yes, I have heard that there are schools where the principals can be assertive in making demands of the teachers.
BUT, to instill this kind of fear in a still new teacher (he has only taught 3 years, he is still at the beginning of his career!)
I am stunned.
I am really … stunned. That is the only word I can come up with. Because this teacher that teaches in fear is passing that fear onto substitutes (my learner is a sub in the district), and that fear will be passed onto pre-service and future beginning teachers.
I call foul.
What have we, as educators, done to allow this fear to foster and fester?
What, as educators, are we doing to push back against the fear?
What, as educators, are we doing to take back ownership of our profession so that we can teach with positivity?
Teaching is a political act. We need to recognize this fact. We need to act accordingly and not allow others who are not educators to define our classrooms and our teaching.
I am fired up over this, which is a great place to be at the beginning of the school year.
Want to know what my learner said?
I didn’t want to answer instantaneously because the topic deserves so much more thought than I can possibly perform in but a moment, so I responded by saying, “I may not have the answer or strategy now, but that’s why I’m in school. That’s what I’m actively working towards figuring out.”
One challenge I have now is to make sure this future teacher, and EVERY future teacher, leaves the program with the skills and answers to this question.