Noting the Courage of Teachers

FE_120807_teamwork425x283By Nick McDaniels — I had the honor last week of attending a training with teachers, counselors, and administrators from New York, New Jersey, and Maryland — all teachers struggling with teaching in areas affected dramatically by poverty and corporate education reform (I’m now thinking they are just two sides of the same coin).

I could blog for multiple posts about the quality of the training, the facilitators from the Center for Supportive Schools about the Peer Group Connection program, a program we all administer at our respective schools.

Toward the end of the training, after forging strong bonds with my colleagues, sharing stories from the trenches, it struck me that everyone was still happy, and still committed to children despite all of the terrible parts of our jobs we shared with one another. And I realized, though I had probably always known it, that teaching is a profession that requires great courage, and teaching children affected by the corporate education reform movement requires even greater courage.

To show up to work every day, faced with implementing curricula that don’t make sense, giving kids tests that don’t match the curricula, managing overcrowded classrooms of children all while having your evaluation and paycheck tied to it, is daunting.

So what did all of these teachers I met do on a daily basis? They met it head on.

They latched onto the Peer Group Connection program, a program that among other things forces adults and children and children and children to forge strong bonds with one another, work on relationships, and creates some emotional stability in all the instability of school. This undoubtedly has added to the workload and has made them more vulnerable to scrutiny by education reformers who would rather see kids with sharpened number two pencils than with high self-esteem and strong interpersonal relationships.

This is courage in the classroom. And while, for the teachers who decide to forge ahead with such courage, it can be lonely, doing what’s best for children even when being directed no to, will inspire others to do the same. It inspires me. And I’m grateful to have spent a few days with such a courageous group of teachers who are keeping the wolves of corporate education reform from the door so that students can thrive.

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