Ask yourself why you or someone you know chose a profession in education for a living. Is it because of the paycheck? Do you like the hours? Do the working conditions suit you? Is it because you couldn’t decide on a major until halfway through your Bachelor’s Degree and figured that teaching would be your best option? If you answered yes to any of these questions then you are definitely in the wrong line of work. If you answered no and are committed to working tirelessly to ensure that all children learn and are successful at it then why do you not have a place at the education reform table?
Being an educator means that you are a part of the noblest profession. Each day is a gift as it provides you with an opportunity to make a positive difference in the life of a child. Quite frankly it takes a special person to be an educator. You understand that your reward for a long days work is not money or bonuses, but instead the satisfaction of knowing that the lesson you spent a great deal of time preparing resulted in student learning. One of the greatest gifts you can ever receive is the acknowledgment from a past student thanking you for never giving up on him/her when others would have. You realize that the summer months are an opportunity to become better. As a result you use this time to engage in professional growth opportunities, read the latest research, and prepare innovative lessons. In your eyes the glass is always half full.
The educator that I just described is driven by passion. They love working with children, will do what it takes to do the job right, never fall victim to the bitterness that is found in all schools, and are committed to continual improvement. Educators driven by a passion to help children learn are the most important components of our society and should be treated as such. Those driven by passion:
- Understand that all students can learn.
- Are not afraid of failure because they realize that this is a means to improve their craft.
- Are compassionate even when pushed to the brink.
- Treat professional development as an opportunity as opposed to an annoyance.
- Openly share their ideas, lessons, and opinions with others. Their mantra is “together we are better”.
- Regularly communicate with parents regularly before and after the school day to keep them abreast of their child’s progress.
- Consistently model life-long learning, especially during the summer months.
- Regularly reflect in order to enhance teaching and learning.
- Create and foster a student-centered learning culture.
- View the evaluation process as a growth opportunity.
- Realize that there will be some bad days, but these are far outnumbered by the great ones.
- Serve as unofficial mentors to others that need support and feedback.
- Embrace change that is in the best interests of the entire school community.
- Are not afraid to admit when they are wrong.
Reform in education begins with passion. Educators, those who are in the trenches working tirelessly to help all children learn, should be in the driver's seat when it comes to reform. They have not only experienced success in terms of increasing achievement, by are driven by a passion to guide all students on a path to success. These are the change agents we need to reform education, not those individuals or groups that have no vested interest or experience working with students in a public school.