Spreading the word

Seeing how quickly @EduTweetOz has grown got me thinking. Yes, building a community of educators is great but what we really need to do is let the rest of our community in on what educators are doing. I think one of the struggles educators face is respect, not from students but from the community. We posted a picture from one of the @EduTweetOz community members to our Facebook page a couple of weeks ago. It was a cute little graphic showing all the things that teachers do outside the face-to-face teaching hours. I was amazed by how many people responded negatively to it. Bringing up the time-honoured ‘but you get so many holidays’ or ‘everyone works hard’ and generally completely missing the point. We weren’t having a go, or suggesting that teachers work harder than anyone else, merely sharing the work we do that goes unseen, the depth of our profession, the extent of the job. Because everyone’s experienced education they think they know what being an educator is about, teaching is so much more than the classroom, the lecture theatre, the face-to-face contact.

When the government talks about raising teacher entry requirements or linking pay to performance in order to attract ‘high calibre’ students into teaching we need to start a conversation about how education as a profession is perceived. It’s not a job you go into (or you should go into) for the holidays or for the short hours, or a job you leave behind when you walk out the school gates. It’s a job that takes passion and commitment and drive. A job that leaves you lying awake at night worrying about the student who didn’t have enough lunch or a clean uniform, or who made a worrying comment to his friend walking to class or the university student who’s started missing classes or how you’re going to get students engaged in writing or chemistry the next day. It’s a job that is about transforming people’s lives.

Here’s my question, while this community is already amazing for educators, is our next step to share this with the non-education professionals? Maybe by raising our profile, by letting people in on the work that we do outside face-to-face teaching, the conversations we engage in to improve ourselves, the drive we have to improve our student’s chances in life, maybe this will help people recognise, value and respect this work.

What if the conversation wasn’t about how to attract the brightest and the best to education? What if the conversations we as educators already have meant people, people with a passion for education, were beating down the doors of schools and universities to get a chance to be part of this incredible profession?

What if we could harness social media, our existing networks and any other means possible to spread the word about educators? This isn’t an issue that separates us into our fields or sectors, this is one that unites us, from long day care educators through to university educators and those of us working outside traditional classroom structures. We need to let the community in on our core business. Everyone’s involved in education, let’s show them what that means.

 

What do you do to share your passion for education? 

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5 thoughts on “Spreading the word

  1. Reblogged this on Edutweetoz and commented:
    @poppyshel has written this thought provoking post on her blog asking how we can promote a more positive image of teachers. We know the professionalism and dedication that we bring to the task, what can be done to reverse the negative stereotypes?

  2. How we spread the word.

    All stakeholders; students, teachers, parents, governors, feeder schools and the community are part of our school development plan. We have a very high profile and valued student voice at our school. We use community and parent forum meetings to showcase what the school has done, is doing and planning on doing. We use community and parent views from these meetings to guide out next steps. We have found that this raises the profile and understanding of what the school and it’s staff do and how they support their stakeholders. It is becoming less frequent these days that people who our aware of our school mention the holidays we get. It did happen and for some naive individuals they will use this statement to try and invole themselves in a conversation that they feel obliged to be in.

    What all teachers who have the passion mentioned above by @poppyshel need to remember is that whatever the view of people outside the profession, it’s what happens in the classroom that matters. The goose bumps and the tingles you get when you see a child realise what they have achieved and the moments where you feel so proud you could cry.

    Keep up the amazing work you do.

    • Wow! Thanks for sharing that @stretchpotential. I love the sound of what you do at your school. It’s definitely time for my school to really start getting the word out about what we do. Thanks so much for your comment!

  3. One of the reasons we created the Great Wall of Awesome was to build a platform for educators and the children they teach to share with the world the awesome things that are happening in their classroom.

    Although we only started the Great Wall of Awesome in January we have had our fair share of what we call “teacher bashing” from the general public. Our Facebook page often receives a comment every now and then talking about the need for teachers to just get on with their job instead sharing what they are doing to try and prove how good they are.

    However, moving away from the negatives, the positive feedback we have received from the public is motivating and far outweighs the negatives.

    We believe that the reason we receive positive feedback is because our site isn’t about educators getting on a podium and shouting out to the world how good they are, it is about classes, often children, sharing the work they do and letting the standard of their teaching and learning speak for itself. As mentioned above by Stretch Potential ‘it’s what happens in the classroom that matters.’

    We know education is not respected as much as it should be, but what we have noticed in our community is that our educators don’t let it bother them. One of members told us that

    “the kids in his class don’t care what people think of education and teachers and system level requirements, all they care about is the teacher in front of them. Every child has a massive amount of respect for their teacher(s) (some days more than others) but that is what should motivate us as teachers. We are here for our students; that’s all that matters.”

    So to answer your question, I don’t think there is a perfect answer to ‘raise our profile’ or ‘spread the word of educators’. However, I think if our focus is on being the best educators we can possibly be, then (even though it is sometimes very, very hard) we need to do our best to ignore the criticism and uneducated remarks about us and our profession and let the work we do speak truth for us. Because at the end of the day there are no words for describing that moment when a child achieves what they thought to be impossible.

    • Hi Lachlan, I think you’re exactly right, it shouldn’t be about shouting from the rooftops, our work should speak for itself. That’s what one of the aims of EduTweetOz is, to share the great things we do in all different sectors, in all different ways but with the common purpose of education and all the potential that brings with it.

      I think people are totally turned off by people in any industry demanding thanks (apart from the entertainment industry of course) and that’s not what I was intending to suggest we do here. I believe that by authentically sharing our passion and what we do, in the same way that our friends and family from other professions do, we can build a positive profile of educators and respect from the community. However, the ignorant and offensive comments made by Judith Sloane this week suggest that we may be need to be less humble, that sometimes it is acceptable and even necessary, to challenge these opinions and offer a different perspective about the work of educators. I hope that we find a way to do this positively and educate those who are confused to the point where they understand and value the important role we play in society. I hope that I know how to address these issues respectfully and clearly without becoming defensive, without trying to justify my job or pay or holidays. I hope we all take a stand when we have to.

      In the mean time I’ll be doing what I love, sharing ideas and exploring the world with my students, the very best way I can.

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