I am starting to post my essays that I wrote for my teacher of the year application. The first, the greatest challenge I see public education today.
I feel the greatest challenge in public education today is that too many of us—educators included— put the I before the We. As Americans many of us are struggling to see the benefit of receiving a public education, not just for the individual but for the country as a whole. As a lifelong Arizonian—notwithstanding four frozen years spent in Denver— I have seen that an Arizona education is overall a pretty good one. If it were not for the teachers that supported and grew me as a learner and as a human being, I would not be afforded the many great things I have now. Those teachers from my past have inspired me to think beyond what I do as an individual teacher to what I can do as a part of a community of educators, students, and families working together to make our state even better.
When thinking about putting the We before the I, I am drawn to the idea that education is all about relationships. Educators form relationships with their students, their families, their communities, and most importantly society as a whole. Yes, a few bad apples make headline news, but as a whole, day in and day out educators work tirelessly to support and guide our students to better futures for themselves and our communities.
Finally, when thinking of putting the We before the I, I am reminded of the level of respect afforded public education. When I was growing up and even now, I have always seen the value of a high-quality public education, and how it can transform a community. As educators we need to work to elevate what it means to have an American Public Education, and work to develop the capacity of our communities to support public education.
One way I have found to elevate what it means to have an American Public education is to promote the work of the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards and National Board Certified Teachers. Through blogging and professional social media posts, I have coached and supported my peers in achieving national board certification themselves and demonstrate their commitment to education and their school communities. When we support our peers and support them in becoming leaders in their field, can we move from thinking about I to thinking about we.