I don't know what was said at the Sunday morning panel at Educon, but something prompted me to tweet:
Is it reasonable to believe that every teacher will be as dedicated and passionate as those at #Educon? It would be lovely, but possible?
After that I think I missed a lot of the panel (which I intend to rewatch this weekend) because I was so engaged in conversations about this on Twitter. Sadly I'm not sure I was ever able to truly sort out my question, much less make it clear in 140 characters. That didn't keep me from having some great discussions though.
I am lucky enough to work at a school full of fabulous teachers. A number of years ago, one of my coworkers said, "We're a nitwit-free school." She was right. My own daughters attend my school because they could have any teacher there and be in good hands.
But most of those teachers don't attend conferences. They aren't on Twitter or blogging or even reading serious educational blogs. Many of them don't know who Arne Duncan or Michelle Rhee or Diane Ravitch are. They are thoughtful, kind, generous, engaging teachers. They know their students and they know their content. They are involved in conversations in our building about how and what to teach and why. They have parent conferences and write happy notes home for children.
Thinking about these teachers was at least a part of my question. Are they not as dedicated as those at Educon? Are they less good as teachers because of that? (This gets even tougher when I start thinking about teachers who aren't as fabulous as my coworkers but that's a whole other issue.)
People pushed back on my question in ways that helped me evolve.
My response was not good enough in the moment. Looking back over these tweets, this one caught me because I firmly believe we should expect to achieve a community of learners and learning. But does that mean teachers have to attend conferences? What does a teacher have to do for us (whoever that might be) to feel they are doing enough professionally to be a community of learners? Not everyone can or will spend their time and money attending conferences. Is that a necessity?
@jenorr I think it's reasonable--I think most of us started out that way. Too many of us break.
Doyle got me thinking about how expectations should vary. New teachers have a ton on their plates and expecting them to engage in the same way as a teacher with five or more years under their belt seems a bit unfair. Should expectations also vary depending on other circumstances? Should the teacher's financial situation (and what the district will/will not help with) be a factor? Should their family responsibilities play a role? Every teacher is an individual person with a unique set of circumstances. How much do we take that into consideration?
I loved Aaron's bit about sparking growth. I'd love to think that my excitement, energy, and passion for the conferences I attend and the blogs I read spreads to others. I gain so much from these and I hope that others have the same opportunity. The idea of being oriented towards growth is one I have to think on some more. How do we identify a growth mindset in teachers? At least a growth mindset about their teaching. I'm not sure.
I think, in the end, that's what I believe is critical for a teacher; an interest and drive to continue growing in their profession. However they do so, that's the bar I think I'd set.
Cross-posted from jenorr.com.