Too often teachers exclaim, "I'm JUST a classroom teacher; why does MY voice EVEN matter?"
And the simple answer is because it does.
Each one of us has a unique perspective that carries with it experience and learning that begs to be shared.
By nature, teachers want to give but often put themselves in a position where their own voices are drowned out by those around them:
It can be the bellowing sound of students' voices (which is certainly important.) And when we advocate for student voice, we are often putting ourselves in the position to mute our own story, somehow suggesting a lack of importance. Perhaps one way to give our students more voice is to speak for them in our adult spaces, providing them opportunities to authentically share and model what that can look like by doing it first.
It can be the voice of our administrators telling us to hush up with the many initiatives that are implemented. Although they never directly say don't speak up, the suggestion of such is more than just a quiet effort. The message of the school (which is also certainly important), seems to be more salient than the individual teacher. After all, we are better together.
Arguably, the mosaic of individual voices is the fabric of these communities which then becomes the fabric of the American educational system. Every teacher has an important obligation to be a part of this thread, sharing the joys, successes, challenges, and failures of his/her independent learning environments. Inviting others to share, and connect making what we do an elaborate collaborative effort rather than an isolated challenge.
Here are some ways we can get our voices heard:
Not on Twitter? Sign up now! If you need help, email me directly and I'll help you. Being on Twitter is a way to connect with other educators and quickly share, and gather amazing resources. Twitter is one way to get your story heard in short tidbits at your convenience. Jump on a chat for more specific resources and sharing.
Afraid to blog? Share your voice on a blog. There are a lot of ways to blog now, for free or for the more advanced on paid platforms, but all can start. You don't need to be a writer to blog (so if that's what's stopping you, don't let it!), you just need a story.
Don't like to write, then use video. You can share your voice on apps like Periscope and YouTube. Make short videos where you communicate with viewers about your experience.
Not comfortable with video, why not use photos? Apps like Instagram can be a great way to share your story with others using images and captions. This way you're telling your classroom's story through images. If your students are younger, consider taking pictures from the back or just of their work. For older students, make sure students sign media waivers.
Social media isn't the only way to share your story. Consider speaking at conferences or even at your own school's PD and collaborate with colleagues to tell your story.
The same way your students may have reasons for why they aren't good at something, you probably do too. But what would you say to them if they said they couldn't do something or they bad at something? Now it's time to step back and give yourself the same advice you'd give them.
You can be good at whatever you put your mind to. Perhaps you aren't there yet, but if you practice, you can be. You matter and we want to know your story and hear YOUR voice, so please share it. Don't deprive us of your wisdom and knowledge.
How will you share your story today? Please share because you are more than JUST anything, you are the sum total of everything that makes you YOU.
*This post originally ran on my Education Week Teacher blog in February 2016