I have started a blog on the issue of education about a hundred times, and every time I get started, I delete everything.
I started one that explains my role as a new teacher.
I started one as a tribute to the amazing teachers I have worked with who continue to inspire me every single day!
I started one about the responsibility of parents.
I started one about the futility and injustice of linking teacher compensation to testing.
However, each time I start writing, I am reminded of the rebuttals I might face due to the intense debate raging in places like Colorado.
We almost all agree that there is a problem.
We all seem to agree that we want to live in a society that educates its citizens.
And, we all seem to agree that something needs to change.
However, I am not responsible for the behavior of others, and I can’t force people to change. I am only responsible for myself.
I am a parent.
I am a teacher.
I am even a student.
So, in light of all this, here is what I can do to help solve the problems in education.
As a teacher, I can continue to learn by staying up to date on best practices. I can talk with other teachers about strategies that work for them. I can continue to develop lesson plans that challenge my students and reflect their stage of learning. When a student is disrespectful and rude, I can choose to respond with love and compassion recognizing that this student may be facing personal issues about which I know very little. When my class looks at me with blank stares, I can flush the plan and try something different. I can take risks and try something new even when the old lesson plan would be a lot easier and faster. I can continue giving up my lunch or my free time to work with a student who needs help. I can continue reaching out to the struggling student to let him know that I believe in him. I can persevere. I can continue to do what I love — teach.
As a parent, I can love my kids every single day and let them know that I’m in their court and on their side. I can help my children make hard choices and learn to do the right thing simply because it is the right thing. I can model what it means to be a life long learner by staying educated on important issues in my neighborhood, school district, state, nation, and the world. I can put down my phone and make eye contact when they are talking to me. When they are disciplined at school or by an authority, I can hold them accountable and teach them the value of learning from mistakes. I can admit when I’m wrong and ask for forgiveness. I can commit to putting the dinner preparation on hold when my daughter comes to me with tears in her eyes because she doesn’t understand her Algebra homework. I can follow up and check the homework assignments even though I’ve been at work all day and I don’t want to think about doing one more thing. I can read to them — even after they are way too big to sit in my lap. I can remind them that they matter and that they are important and that they have the potential to change the world. I can show them that one of life’s greatest gifts is the opportunity to learn.
As a student, I can approach every challenge and every new situation with an attitude that says, “What can I learn from this?” I can recognize that learning is my job. I can remember that the opportunity to learn is a gift. I can remember that I don’t know everything. When I don’t know something, I can ask. I can remember that I am the only one ultimately responsible for my choices. I can be thankful and grateful for those who have gone before me and paved a way for me to learn. I can humbly and graciously respond to correction and feedback. I can treat others the way I want to be treated. I can work hard and persevere and embrace new ideas. I can listen to perspectives radically different than my own and ask questions to seek to understand.
I certainly can’t fix everything. However, I can remember that I have an important role to play, and I can do something about the problems in education.