Dear TSU followers–
I’ve been developing this website for nearly a year now. Lots of people tell me it’s great . However I haven’t seen it lead to many more teachers writing and publishing pieces that better inform the public about our work. Or if it has, then people aren’t telling me. Yes, I’ve shared lots of examples of the stories teachers have told, and I’m glad to do that — but those were already happening anyway.
So I think it’s now time for this site to find a new strategy for teacher voices. I believe the effort needs to focus more on a single issue that impacts teachers & kids, plus a specific place to gather teachers’ comments on it, and then some specific way to get the comments out into the wider world. I have some ideas, but I sure could use your input.
Here’s what I’m thinking. Focus on OVER-TESTING CHILDREN. Ask teachers to complete the following starter:
If we weren’t spending so much time prepping for and giving standardized tests, here’s what I’d be doing with kids, and what they’d be learning.
I’d ask that the writing focus on an especially powerful classroom activity or strategy & how it affected one student or class. Additional reflections on the limitations of the tests could be added — but this approach keeps the writing positive. Meanwhile, I’m working on finding a good media outlet for the pieces.
SO PLEASE RESPOND AND TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK OF THIS STRATEGY AND WHAT YOU THINK WILL BE THE BEST ISSUE TO FOCUS ON.
(If you have any trouble entering a comment, you can also use the link to the TSU gmail account provided on the homepage.)
Here’s our friend Janet Ilko asking teachers to tell the public what matters in school so that we can get beyond all the standardized testing. More and more teachers are wringing their hands about the irrelevancy of the tests and all the time consumed with prepping kids for them and giving them. But as Janet says, we’ve got to tell legislators and the public about what we’re doing that’s so much more important.
And Janet also linked us to another teacher’s post on the low esteem in which teachers are viewed these days. Same point, though: we had better explain ourselves better, because no one else is going to do it for us.
Thinking about how to speak up and make a difference on an important issue in your school district? Do you want to encourage fellow teachers to do so as well? You can do this without getting yourself in hot water with your principal, but it takes careful strategizing. Take a look at the key points and the toolkits we’ve linked to on our Teacher Advocacy Planning page.
The New Teacher Center has created a very helpful advocacy toolkit, with a short webinar and a number of guidesheets and resources. Of course, they’re advocating for their program — new teacher induction and mentoring. But the ideas and strategies are ones that all of us can use or adapt. You’ll find the info at:
Once there you can watch the webinar. And far down on the sidebar, under “Profession Related,” click on “Advocacy.”
Thanks to Lisa Vahey, our very smart friend in Chicago for cluing me in to this.