But I’m a teacher, you may be saying. I already have a more-than-full-time job. How can I possibly add all this to the job that I do?
This is the reality: the role of teachers is expanding in some big ways. Most teachers no longer live in isolation behind their classroom doors, answering only to themselves about what and how they teach. Most teachers are impacted by the multiple changes in how schools work, changes that might be impacting you: from shared community practice (through PLCs and other group decision-making); to mandated models of teacher assessment; to required curricula, pacing guides, and district-wide end-of-course assessments.
Our changing role as teachers.
A new Vision of Teacher Professionalism
It’s time for a shift in the way in which we see our roles as educators. Passively receiving the latest mandates doesn’t add to our job satisfaction. Railing against the machine can often threaten our job security. We need a new model for a path in between – one that enables us to work to change the system but continue to succeed in it at the same time. In such a role educators learn to work in ways that are smart, safe, savvy, and sustainable.
SMART: In order to change the way people understand literacy education, teachers have to be articulate about their expertise surrounding both their content knowledge and their pedagogical knowledge. They need to be articulate about why they teach in particular ways–especially if those ways vary from increasingly narrow, standardized practices. And they also need to learn what other people think about literacy education, finding ways to frame issues that acknowledge and address those people’s concerns–all the while remaining true to the values that underlie research based practices.
SAFE: Teachers have to find ways to make change that won’t result in losing their jobs or feeling isolated from their colleagues. When teachers work in safe ways, they reach out to others–colleagues, parents, administrators or community members–finding allies. When teachers work in safe ways, they raise awareness in their communities sharing the good work their students are doing as well as the research that supports such practice.
SAVVY: Teachers need to be strategic in their journey toward change. Savvy teachers choose an issue in their local context, identify decision makers, find ways to inform those decision makers, and work toward an achievable goal–a goal that may be step one toward bigger change.
SUSTAINABLE: In order for teachers to truly make a difference, they must find ways to make everyday advocacy a part of their day-to-day lives. When teachers work in sustainable ways, they are realistic about what they can do; aware that long-lasting change takes time; and thoughtful about the best ways to reach others in the amount of time they have.