Today’s Teachers Can

Growing up in a household that worked in education (K12, athletics, adult literacy, and higher education) I can’t really remember a time when I wasn’t surrounded by teachers.

Their laughter, honesty, commitment, and “always teaching” spirit served as awesome examples. Some of my favorites did things in their classroom that (after all the years) still remain models of excellence.

The first grade teacher that had an amazing claw foot tub in her classroom where kids read, worked, reflected, and recharged. And even did math problems with markers on the sides.

The elementary physical education teacher that helped the entire school master a two mile run, and in exchange ran his first marathon after his kids facilitated his “training.”

The middle school drama teacher that let her class write their own play when she realized they had a story to tell.

The high school math teacher who had kids working in groups through problem sets. But more importantly, had people from all kinds of professions visit to share how they used the math he was introducing. Every single week.

The principal who met his 2100 students at the door every morning and called EVERY single one by name. And when they walked out in protest of a school board decision, he walked out and stood by them as they walked across the parking lot to the school district office (beaming with pride that they were using their collective power and voice, after ensuring a police presence to keep them safe).

The collective bargaining group that brought donuts to our house on Saturday mornings, talking not about the bare minimum required, but what they needed to fight for in order to give their kids the best educational experience possible.

The list of educational influencers in my life is long, and thankfully strong.

When I think about the educators who served as my mentors, I always think about how lucky I was to know their stories. In a pre-Twitter era how lucky I was to know of their work, learn from it, and model after it.

Today’s teachers aren’t limited to sharing their story only with those that are lucky enough to know them. Their students. Their students’ families. Their school colleagues.

Today’s teachers can share their stories. They can create a network (not bound by physical locale) to learn from.

It’s so much easier now.

But no matter how easy it gets in completing the task of sharing your story, it still takes a professional intent on sharing their story.

Today’s teachers can be influencers. Today’s teachers can set the stage for questions and expectations. The voice of today’s teachers is no longer dependent, it’s no longer in the hands of an elite few, and it’s no longer accessible to only those lucky enough to grow up in a house full of educators.

Today’s educators have the platforms to contribute to the conversation.

But regardless of WHAT they can do, it is a question of WILL they?

As parents we need to think about what our preconceived notions are about learning. As community members we need to lend an ear to advocates who are thinking about what is next, not what is now for our kids. Teachers today can help to shape that conversation through sharing their stories and driving a new conversation.

There is no professional in existence today that isn’t in a position where they are free from spending their own time completing their work, refining their processes and tools, expanding their own learning, and developing their own network. Teachers are not outside of expectations for this new professionalism.

The difference is that today’s teachers can direct, change, and contribute in ways that go far beyond what was possible even ten years ago. I’m hoping that with the energy and enthusiasm of today’s teachers more individuals can look back with the same reverence and appreciation.

Today’s teachers can ignite conversations, drive experiences, share expectations, and mold opportunities. They’ve always been able to, but now they can do it to scale.

If we can hear their voices at scale, we might just go into the next decade with an understanding of learning today, and dreams of tomorrow with a perspective that only teachers can share.

There is an old joke about “using your teacher voice.” Today it’s not a joke it’s an absolute dream.