Saturday, March 10, 2012

Be the Change You Want to See

This morning I sat flipping through Twitter and read tweet after tweet about the hardships teachers face. As usual, my stomach started to roll, my cheeks felt hot.  I started to get that uncomfortable feeling in my gut that I am busting my butt for my students and teachers fruitlessly.  But, like a hand reaching down to pluck me from the sea of tweets, the mug of my morning coffee spoke to me.  Loudly.  Across it, seemingly written a bit more boldly today, was the quote from Ghandi:  Be the change you want to see in the world.  

I could complain and tweet all day about too many tests, too little money, too much unfairness all around.  But does complaining change anything?  I could go and lobby Washington.  I could be more involved in my Union.  I could leave the teaching profession altogether and go work at Wegmans.  Or, I could be the change I want to see and TEACH.

Although I get it that state testing is done out the yingus and teachers are going to be held accountable way too much for those results, should that stop me from being a good teacher?  I grow weary of teachers complaining they have to "teach to the test."  Why?  The tests don't measure skills that are unreasonable.  Shouldn't we be teaching those skills anyway?  Shouldn't they be embedded in exceptional instruction?  And if students are failing the test because of circumstances out of our control, then teaching to the test won't change that.  I wonder what would happen if teachers stopped seeing things like the Common Core Standards as the enemy, and started focusing on any positive aspect we could find.  As a way to bring us together as educators in solidarity and common vision.  Focus on the continuum that it creates to make state lines invisible.  Start using it to get desks out of straight rows and to stop lecturing for 50 minutes, making students take notes to memorize for next week's test.  Start using it to wake up the administrators who hide in their offices all day and only interact with students when there's a problem.  Use it to reflect on your teaching and create bonds between disciplines and within departments and grade levels.  Tweet about the ways it can be a positive influence on education and educators who use it together.  As my other coffee mug says:  When life throws you lemons, make lemonade.

If all we do is focus on the negative, negative is what we will get.  "Be the change you want to see in the world," says my coffee mug.  I'd like to change education, so I'm starting with my own classroom.

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