Focusing Our Efforts As Teachers

There are only so many things we can handle at once.

I am a Type-A personality.  I like lists and charts, direction, goals, focus, stability.  I am the first person to flip out when there is a change in plans.  I am overburdened, busy, running 200 mile an hour Indy races in my brain all day from 6am to 8pm (and sometimes even later as you can tell from the timestamps on some of my blog posts).  I’ve done my fair share of complaining, bemoaning, regretting, arguing, and making excuses.

But when it comes to what happens in my classroom and in public school education, nothing gets accomplished when we waste so much of our time hating the “Yes, we can’s” and justifying our unwillingness with the “No, we can’t’s.”

We, teachers, all need to refocus on what is most important to us, and defend that with everything we have.  So, I ask you, what is it?  What is important?  Are test scores and merit-based pay important?  Is this initiative or that program important?  Is volunteering to the point of exhaustion important?

No.

What is important, and the reason we do what we do, is the education of our students.

I encourage you, as we move toward the new school year, to look at every opportunity, every challenge, every unfunded mandate, every document you have to fill out, every volunteer request, and every change in policy, really look at each of these things and figure out what must I do to positively impact the education of my students.  Don’t look at frameworks like RtI as burdensome duties, see them as opportunities to improve your teaching by focusing in on one student’s learning at a time.  Don’t ask for permission to use cell phones as a form of technology in your classroom to make up for the lack of technology funding in the district, ask for forgiveness if something goes wrong.  Don’t jump to “No, we can’t” when something new comes along, try to find innovative ways to achieve.

If we want to raise our profession and public education, we have to focus on being professionals.  Professionals digest all of the issues at hand before making decisions.  They don’t whine and act like babies when change happens, they lead change through innovation and initiative.  Professional educators don’t let policy makers walk all over their profession, they stand up and use their intelligence to gain back control in the political climate.

Start by defining your role as an educator.  Put children and education first.  If something isn’t educationally sound, change it, make it your own, make it work for your kids rather than against them.  Think around policies–ask yourself, “Why can’t I/we/my school/my community/my state do that?”   But don’t give in to the instant complaint syndrome.

“We don’t have the money.”  “Teachers are already doing too much as it is.”  Yes, we all know this.  So, we can dwell on it until policy and law stomp all over us, or we can pull ourselves back up by the bootstraps, stop sniveling like children, and be the experts in education.

Be the change you want to see in your world.

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