The greatest teacher incentive: The freedom to teach

The Washington Post oped is live The greatest teacher incentive: The freedom to teach  and full of thoughts and words that echoed through my head as a result of the surveys you completed on Monday.

How it was written
Over 130 of you took the time and energy to share your thoughts. Your passion to teach and do what is right took my breath away. NONE of you asked for no accountability. You want to teach well and you want to be held accountable but you believe that the assessment of your proficiency as a teacher is unfair.


The overarching theme
If we told students that we would give them ONE test a year and that their entire grade for the whole year rested on that ONE test, nothing else. What would we see?

We would see parents yelling. We would see students crying. We would see legislators acting against those “horrible teachers” who don't teach.

Well, right now we're not teaching and it is because the assessment of learning happening in schools is not fair either. Some respond to unfairness with the nobility to do the right thing anyway. Applause. You are remembering that teachers are noble.

Others respond by cheating. It is human nature. It is wrong, but the harder and more impossible the task and the higher the stakes, the more the temptation to cheat.

Let your voice be heard
The amazing thing is that by Tweeting, liking, Digging, tumbling, etc. articles that you like, teachers, you wield a lot of power that you do not know that you have. You have the ability to put articles (like mine) on the homepage of the Washington Post! That is what you did –  you've already done it.

Are we just now figuring this out?

Do you know that through social media you can make a difference for the causes you believe in? Your tweets, your comments, your Facebook likes and blog posts linking to the article are votes about what is important to you and what needs to be heard. (Even delicious bookmarks, Tumblr posts, and Diggs count in their algorithms.) Interact with what you think is important: this or anything.

Time to BE Teachers and Show our nobility in our actions
I do hope you read the article, but even more so I hope that if you like this article or any article that you do something with it.

I hope that on all articles that when you are talking about teaching that you comment with respect and dignity befitting your profession, even when unkind, disrespectful people crop up like have come up in the comments. (not many but a few)

I also hope that you make it a habit of BEING a professional and defending the profession. I had said something the other day about a judge and I was taken to task by someone via email for insulting a lawyer – a professional and all the reasons being a lawyer were important and why they were a great profession.

My only thought was this: when someone insults teaching what do we do? We run for the hills? We cower? What! The problem I have with most people who defend teachers is HOW they defend us. We must be noble but we must BE. We must speak.

I love what Dr. Thomas Ho said in his tweet above:

“I commented, will YOU?”

I just think that it is high and mighty time for us to begin defending our profession in deeds, in words, and in the nobility that everyone sees shining forth in who we are and how we conduct ourselves. We aren't whiners. We love our students. We work hard to treat them with dignity. We don't mind accountability, but we do want fairness because unfairness to teachers in the way they deliver teaching trickles down to the classroom and ultimately our students.

We need meaningful discussion not partisan banter and most of all we need to start focusing on our children. They are growing up way too fast and our system is not preparing them for their future.

One final note
I was excited to be asked to write the article. I must admit that at first I was a bit overwhelmed and had a list of names to deflect the opportunity to and even broached the subject with the editor. However, I knew that if I asked those of you IN the public school system that you would tell me what you thought. I also know that by your tweets and follows that you have “voted me” as part of this conversation. As a US citizen and as your friend you are emailing me every day about the heartbreaks you are feeling and your problems.

So, my friends, I decided to write and dedicate this to all of the teachers in US public schools. My friends, you are noble, keep working, there are many people who are listening and echoing your thoughts.

Remember your noble calling, teacher.

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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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Vicki Davis writes The Cool Cat Teacher Blog for classroom teachers everywhere