Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Can One Person Make a Difference?

This post is a bit of a departure than my typical posts. However, my reasoning is twofold. One, I needed to write to clarify my own thinking. Two, I am asking for some insights from all of you as I value your perspectives.

If you're an educator in Alabama, I'm sure you would agree that every time we turn around, there seems to be a new piece of legislation that seems like an attack on educators and our ability to teach our students. Everything from a lack of pay raise to escalated healthcare costs to repealing College and Career Ready Standards to making our state superintendent an elect official (sidebar: Dr. Bice, a champion for Alabama students, doesn't waver from doing what is best for each of our students). I have mostly refrained from publishing my personal views through social media selecting instead to write my legislators emails/letters, make phone calls, and schedule face-to-face meetings. In addition, I have spoken with many of my fellow educators to encourage them to take action as well.

Last week, I finally reached my "breaking point." Much of this legislation is being pushed through by my legislator. After doing some digging, I discovered that he is planning on running for a position in Congress. So, in the interest of building a name for himself, he is taking actions that directly impacts my students' ability to learn and my ability to teach.  I have personally met with many of the Alabama legislators and all of our federal legislators (in fact, I will be meeting with several of them again this week). Any guesses on which legislator I can't get in touch with? Yep, that's right. The one where I am his constituent. I've tried. For two years.

Like many educators, I do not like politics. It is not an arena where I want to be involved...at all. Like many of you, I became an educator so that I could teach my students. I LOVE that I have the privilege of learning alongside my students every day. Every day is different. Every day is exciting. I have a passion for empowering the voices of each of my students. I teach them that their voice can make a difference in the world. A little over two years ago, I realized that I had to speak up for my students. I could no longer sit back and expect others to take action. I had to lead them by example.

I know that the work that I do makes a difference in the lives of my students, their parents, and the community. I have been fortunate enough to be able to witness this year after year. However, I can't help but wonder if I am giving my students false hope or an unrealistic view of the world and the power that they have to make a difference. I want to instill in them a sense of community and a desire to serve others. I want them to know that they matter, their thoughts matter, and that they don't have to sit by and be a victim. They can speak up.

So as I wrap up these thoughts I wonder: Am I setting my students up for failure? Are these unrealistic expectations for my learners? What lesson can I take away from my experiences to pass on to my students?

Thank you in advance for your thoughts and ideas.

1 comment:

  1. No, you are not setting your students up for failure. Julie, you are right to fight for our students. We, as teachers, tell our students to come to us when they they need help, feel bullied or simply can't stand up for themselves. So, now in a time of need, your students need you more than ever to be their voice! Go defend not only what is right for your classroom students, but also what is right for the state. Teach your students that standing up for what is right isn't always easy. Some of the great leaders of our time had to deal with people who tried to stand in the way of change. So, shake it off and keep on pushing!