Yesterday we did a round robin State of the Profession. We moved all the tables back to sit in a circle (more like a really big oval, there are thirty of us) and each person shared their greatest concern or challenge. It could be focused on their school, their district, or even broader. Whatever is speaking most strongly to them.
We're teachers from first grade through university, private/independent schools and public ones, teaching students from all socio-economic levels, countries of the world, and colors of the rainbow. In spite of all our differences we felt great connections around the group.
Here are some of the comments that struck me most strongly (in the order shared):
- fragmentation - lack of ongoing conversations between colleagues and across age levels
- negativity - we need to focus on solutions and positive thinking
- lack of control professionally and the sense that we've relinquished that control
- inability to focus on teaching because of the myriad other demands on teachers
- need for community in a school, ownership and vision
- too much emphasis on grades
- inequity for students
- national perception of our profession
- need for teachers to model life as learners
- culture of complaint - complaining about the teachers who taught our students before us
- need for meaningful collaboration
- need for classroom to be a safe place for students - physically, emotionally, and intellectually
- parental expectations for students and for teachers
- narrow definition of success in our society
- teacher exhaustion
- goals constantly changing from administration at various levels
- need to support children in our society - food, safety, support in all ways
- need to question more, to ask why we do things
- student proactivity vs. parent control - students do not take action due to parents doing so for them
It was a powerful time. Everyone listened in silence to everyone else. In spite of the focus on concerns and challenges it was not whiny. In fact, many people included things for which they are grateful about their school or district. I feel blessed to be spending four weeks learning with these amazing teachers. I firmly believe that our profession would be in a much better place if every teacher had the opportunity to engage in this sort of collaborative learning experience with dedicated colleagues.
How about you? What is (are) the greatest challenge(s) facing you as a teacher?