Amazing! While I was hopeful that a few teachers across the nation would be able to speak out and help us in our goal to let parents and legislators hear a classroom teacher’s view of the problems with education, I never expected what I saw yesterday! After all, the pressure on teachers to be silent puts many at significant risk if they openly criticize administrative or DoE policies. The last thing a teacher wants to do, if they still hope to be assigned certain classes, be picked for conferences, or be named a coach or “senior class advisor” or SADD head, is to be seen as a “troublemaker” by their school administration.
But it turns out I seriously underestimated how strongly teachers nationwide felt that fixing the real problems in education was worth speaking out! Teachers need to be heard, and it is starting to happen!
Yesterday was “day one” of the formal announcements and efforts to invite teachers to contribute their stories to our “Visions on Teaching” initiative. All the work Robyn Chausse did teaching me how blogs, websites, Facebook pages, and twitter (I still don’t get the hang of twitter!) all work together really prepared us for this announcement. I never imagined that all Robyn’s work, combined with teachers eager to be part of changing things, in just six weeks would get us to 1000 followers and 6000-plus visitors to our blog. And the number is growing strongly every day.
We had dozens of teachers respond to our (puny!) announcement on this blog last Friday, but once we started the formal announcements it was amazing! In just the 10 hours after the first formal public announcement (an e-mailing by the outstanding WomenOnWriting website to all their teacher members), here’s what happened:
- More than 300 new visitors to the contest web page at: http://liftingthecurtain.com/contest.html
- Six submissions received the first day
- Two rejected (one missing the required cut-and-paste author and release info from the website, and one an unverifiable personal attack on several named people)
- Four sent to the panel, with two looking to be obvious candidates to be at least wait-listed
- Seven e-mails from teachers with topic ideas other than the suggested ones – all excellent and approved
- One new topic added based upon the e-mails (homeschooling)
More announcement efforts are planned from other major sites today and next week. What a hoot to see such teacher reaction!
I added a new topic to the list of potential topics after an exchange of emails with a parent in Oregon – homeschooling. We hear some of the “emotional” reasons for homeschooling, but I think an understanding of the “educational” reasons for some parents choosing this approach will offer additional insight into the status of today’s urban high school education.
I will start updating the bottom of the contest page, perhaps as soon as this weekend, with a list of submissions by topic. That will help people see what topics are being addressed, and also track the status of submissions. My plan is to do a one-line listing for anything received under the applicable topic question along the lines of (invented examples):
- Your views of the degree to which the problems in Urban high schools do, or do not, apply to suburban and/or rural high schools.
- (Sent to Panel) Anonymous, English teacher, Chicago Illinois
- The role of your local union – efforts spent PAC-related versus helping fix education
- (Wait-listed) Clair T, Special Education, Michigan
- (Rejected – missing requirements) John Doe, History teacher, Massachusetts
- Things that routinely limit teaching time – either mandates on you, or student-specific reasons
- (Sent to Panel) Bill Murray, arts and theater teacher, Hollywood California
- Student homework performance
- (Rejected – personal attacks) Myrtle C, Math teacher, Florida
In addition, once the panel completes some reviews and recommendations, I will be posting interesting submissions here on the blog.
Thank you all for being part of this. If we can finally get legislators and parents to see what is really happening in education from a teacher’s view then, finally, we can start to fix things!