I am a classroom teacher. I have been now for twenty-one years. It is what I will be next year and likely the year after, quite possibly for another decade. It is a job I love and feel privileged to do.
For the past two years I have also served on the board of directors for two organizations, both affiliates of ASCD. I have sat in meetings with school district superintendents, district-wide leaders and coaches of all sorts, principals, and assistant principals. I have had the chance to be a part of planning the work and making decisions for these organizations. This is not a situation the great majority of teachers have the opportunity to do and I am grateful for it.
Yesterday I was in a middle school cafeteria after school with the president of Virginia’s Board of Education and two of the members (one of whom is the director of equity for my school district, the other of whom is a former secretary of education for Virginia and Tim Kaine’s wife). For an hour and a half these three individuals listened to those of us in the room and asked us questions about their draft Standards of Quality. In the room were representatives from a range of organizations in Virginia (I was there as a representative of the Virginia affiliate for ASCD) who had been invited to give feedback. At the end, there was half an hour for public comment.
I am confident these board members listen carefully to the public comments. I watched them take notes on what people had to say. However, those of us there for the focus group period had the chance to not only share our thinking, but to ask questions, and to respond to questions. We had the chance to weigh in significantly on these drafts.
I spent the day yesterday teaching third graders. We ran a small marketplace in our classroom during math to practice making change. We read a few chapters in our current novel and hated quitting because we are so near the end and it is quite suspenseful. We added new thoughts to our chart on characteristics of high quality writing. We went to art class and worked on weaving.
Then I snuck out a little early and drove to this meeting. I chatted with the members of the Virginia Board of Education, the superintendent and chair of the board of education of the school district we were in, and representatives from various organizations. It is possible some of those folks spend their days in schools, same as I do, but most of them likely don’t.
I am deeply appreciative of those who have seen me as one who belongs in the room where it happens. I hope we can find a way to bring more current teachers in as well.
(I believe strongly that teachers want teachers to be in these rooms and to have a strong voice. I also suspect that many teachers do not want to be in these rooms given the amount of time it can take, in addition to a job that is already demanding. I do not think that is a problem. Not all teachers need to be in these rooms. We need to do a better job of inviting teachers in and ensuring that those who want to speak up have the opportunities.)