Retirees reflect and share, especially teachers. It’s what we do. Amazingly, we can now see the forest for the trees, which was close to impossible on the treadmill of the daily work grind. Only after the dust has settled, can the past become clear. In my personal effort to build a positive online social network, Chariho Cares!, to encourage current teachers to look up, not down, and create grassroots solutions to help kids learn, I am struggling, but not giving up! I have this observation to make in hopes that it will start a conversation about how to move forward publicly, professionally, and personally.
I believe there is a passive aggressive game being played between administration and teachers, perpetrated by the national economic crisis in the early 1990’s, when our education system was identified as the root of all that is wrong in America. The resulting education reform movement, although well intended to leave no child behind, (Who could argue against that slogan?) has created a negative school climate. Targeting both teachers and administrators, punitive sanctions from federal and state governments, based on standardized expectations, have not solved all that was wrong in America. Instead, a climate of competition and fear has permeated public education, essentially morphing teachers from their unique personas into sheep and their immediate administrators into shepherds.
Merit pay experiments, mass firings of principals and teachers, and the squelching of teacher creativity in the classroom have successfully “silenced the lambs.” Fear of losing their jobs in this highly charged atmosphere robs them of the full expression of their passion and drives educators to fly under the radar to avoid being targeted as a problematic member of the flock. Early on the veteran sheep and shepherds view their outspoken peers as dangerous to the safety of the herd. Outspoken peers are either silenced or they choose to leave the herd for greener pastures. New lambs, who come full of energy and ideas, are schooled in the herd mentality. Appropriate subservience is obviously rewarded with promotion.
Instead of viewing teachers as sheep, we should honor their unique skills, talents, and ideas. Each teacher, just like each student, possesses personal strengths, and the goal of education should be to identify and encourage the development of these strengths within a relevant curriculum for a successful life. Personalized education should be embraced for teachers and administrators as well as students. We should encourage them to develop relationships with kids that showcase their true animal characteristics. Only then will a student-centered classroom that blends available technology and digital resources with teacher-facilitated guidance transform American education. Blended Learning is good for all of us.
A herd of sheep gives you milk, wool, meat. The world of animals gives your school a real treat!
This observation is based on the underwhelming response from my fellow colleagues to join the social networking scene, where the opportunity to grow as a professional and a person awaits them.
Advice whether or not you ask: Fill the skies with little blue birds! Join @charihocares on Twitter to raise your sound, No “Baa, Baa, Baas!”