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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Why Blogging?

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.