Too Many Teacher Preachers

I don’t often “whine” about being a teacher because unless you are doing it each day, it is difficult to appreciate the complexities and challenges- and so speaking out doesn’t resonate well with the general public. But teachers are barraged by others speaking out about a profession they know so little about. We have become used to the parade of parents, politicians, and policy makers who criticize and blame teachers for the failings of our educational system and ignore the increasing challenges our students (and society) are facing. We tend to keep our heads down and push ahead.

But lately there has been increasing push back from teachers who want a seat at the table when decisions are made about policies and pay. Teachers in West Virginia bravely led the charge when they walked out protesting low wages and high health care costs. Arizona, Colorado, Oklahoma, and Kentucky followed suit. Not all ‘won’ their battles, but their voices were heard and they ignited a growing base of support.

I was encouraged by these movements, but I’m well aware that teachers are still expected to fix whatever ails this country and there are too many “preachers” proselytizing their beliefs about how to accomplish this. Sadly,  many of these preachers come from within the education community, but they are professors and researchers who are completely out of touch with the real lives of teachers and students in today’s classrooms.

Pernille Ripp nailed it with her brilliant blog post Come Teach Again – On Teacher Guilt and the Platitudes that Grows It when she shared this tweet by Robert Marzano-a ‘guru’ to many in the education world:

Screen Shot 2018-07-06 at 8.04.24 AM

This guilt-laced tweet ignited a firestorm of dedicated and passionate teachers who are fed up with being shamed day after day. Marzano is a researcher who has turned preacher. He is caught up in the frenzy of hyperbole that is replacing reasoned discourse in our country.

“There is NO reason…”  Seriously?  You can’t think of ONE?  Not trauma?  Not homelessness? Not hunger?  Not physical disabilities? Not chronic illness? Not mental illness? Not anxiety? Not addiction? Not abuse?…Not ONE???

And let’s say our students are not burdened with any of these reasons, that they are simply disengaged. When teachers put their heart, soul, and talents into teaching each day we may not have that magic wand in our bag of tricks to transform the free will and personal decisions of other human beings to meet our expectations. Unless you are in a classroom working your butt off every day, you might not appreciate the proverb,

You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make him drink.

Marzano the preacher might want to brush up on his proverbs. Marzano the researcher might want to contemplate changing his hashtag :  #studentengagement to #studentinvestment.  Learning is a partnership between teachers and students who are BOTH invested in the outcome. Those who have been out of the classroom too long might want to stop preaching and start teaching in today’s classrooms. I can guarantee it will be a humbling experience. In the meantime, we need to continue our advocacy for our students and our schools and call B.S when we see it.

One More Off My TBR Stack!

Screen Shot 2018-07-06 at 8.47.03 AMAMAL UNBOUND by Aisha Saeed

(Author Aisha Saeed is one of the founding members of the We Need Diverse Books campaign)

Most of us know the story of Malala Yousafzai, but all across Pakistan, and the world, there are stories of girls who stand up to the injustices they face. Though fiction, Aisha Saeed reveals the all-too-real world of indentured servants when she introduces us to our heroine Amal. (Author Aisha Saeed is one of the founding members of the We Need Diverse Books campaign)

Amal, the eldest of five girls, has dreams to become a teacher. But one day at the market she is hit by a car driven by the ruling family’s cruel son Jawad Sahib. Ironically he finds her behavior disrespectful and calls in her father’s debt. Knowing he cannot pay it, Jawad forces Amal to become his servant until the debt can be paid. But Amal soon learns the debt can never be repaid when her room and board are added to it each day. She is trapped-but Amal does not give up hope and her courage inspires others to seek much needed change. LOVED THIS so much. A real eye-opener for readers to understand the lives of others and appreciate family, food, culture, and courage. 4th grade+

2 thoughts on “Too Many Teacher Preachers

  1. You really feel something when you can get fired up on a July 6th. I agree that Marzano is full of … hyperbole… and… I think sometimes teachers can be quick to blame other things when they haven’t quite found the key. No matter what, I think we should keep looking and speaking and advocating. Thanks for the food for thought.

  2. I agree, Susan. Sometimes some teachers look for ‘blame’ before they have done some serious self-reflection. I guess those aren’t the ones I’m visualizing with this post. I am thinking of the ones who are doing the hard work and not giving up but are shamed and blamed for things beyond their control. I, too, believe we should keep looking, speaking, and advocating. That’s the only way we’ll find those key(s). Thanks for being one of the passionate ones!

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