I have resisted joining the blogging world for a number of reasons. Firstly, I wasn’t sure I had something to say that anyone would want to hear. Secondly, I really wasn’t sure I had enough tech know how to work it all out. Finally, I wasn’t sure I could commit to doing something in a sustained and consistent enough way to make it meaningful.
However, today something happened that pushed me over the edge into blogging. For the past month I’ve been exploring how twitter can be used a tool to connect educators, as a professional learning community and a strategy in my classroom. The journey has been amazing. More on that another time. Today I saw the potential of twitter and social media to really question the dominant monologue. The monologue that says “Teachers have too many holidays.”, “Teachers have a great job, you only work 9-3.”, the monologue that asks “When are you going to sort out the behaviour of kids today?” or today’s comment “Teachers are putting too much pressure on children over NAPLAN.” Today I decided enough was enough. Enough blaming, demeaning and demonising of the teaching profession. Enough.
It was a Saturday morning much like any other, I turned on my television for 5 minutes while I ate my toast, before I headed out. What happened next made me want to scream. On the television, on a nationally broadcast morning show, a journalist (Note: not an educator or anyone remotely involved in education) was holding forth on how teachers are making children stressed through the NAPLAN tests. Yes, that’s right, teachers. Those people that care for, nurture and support your children for the majority of their waking hours. Those people, teachers. Teachers taking delight in seeing children suffering anxiety and stress before taking a test, that is their statutory obligation to administer, that has no connection to the everyday lives of their students. Teachers watching and unable to help students they know can’t access the materials for a host of reasons. Yep, teachers. Evil. The unnecessarily mean-spirited nature and lack of any actual research or evidence to back up her opinion made me furious.
I turned to twitter and was somewhat heartened by the response from educators. But I don’t think this is enough. As educators we know what we are doing, we know about the problems of NAPLAN, we know that we don’t put undue pressure on students (really even as I write that the idea that someone thinks a person who has committed their life to education would put pressure on a student makes me want to throw things). The issue isn’t us. The issue is getting this message out into the community. How dare someone who has no idea what educators do be given a national forum through which to spread these negative perceptions. How dare there be no contrasting view offered. How dare people accept this as truth!
It’s time to turn this around. It’s time to fight those comments every time they’re made. Every time someone says “Oh, you’re a teacher, you’re so lucky to have so many holidays.” respond. Share a little about your day or week, or what you did on the weekend, or what you’ll be doing in those holidays you have so many of. Share the good stories, the things that make this profession amazing. Share the things you do that make a difference, that have an impact. This is an amazing profession to be a part of. Let’s spread the word!
As for that journalist, I’ve been sharing some ideas with her. Seems like she’s not so keen to hear them. Will persevere.