Monday, November 26, 2012

My NCTE Convention Takeaway

There were teachers everywhere. I mean EVERYWHERE. And they weren't your jeans-and-sandals or undertucked-polo-wearing or I'm-overworked-and-underpaid-faced teachers either. These people were professionals!

Every room I sat in, every hallway I strolled through, every lunch conversation I eavesdropped on... Here were experts exploring the problems-of-practice frontier. And the problems-of-practice being discussed were not "I can't get my students to listen" or "Why won't they turn in homework" or "Kareem needs to stop messing with Mona." The problems they discussed were academic in nature, around ways of teaching the content and supporting their communities.

My attendance at the NCTE convention two weeks ago was a rejuvenating, healthy, and professional thing to do. 

It was not, however, something many teachers get much support in attending. We spend the overwhelming majority of our days cordoned off from one another, teaching or frantically attempting to catch up with grading or planning. The support provided to teachers in perperation programs is often meager, and the support provided by districts to new teachers too often takes the form of a monthly meeting and semester one-on-one. We fill out the forms, turn them in for pay, and move on to the next year.

I find myself simply incapable of fulfilling all the tasks assigned to me well. If I'm expected to be excellent at what I do, you'll have to laden me with fewer responsibilities, give me less time in front of students, and more time to work meaningfully with colleagues - and that work CANNOT be superficial, poorly directed, or follow agendas set by people at the district.

Most of us see a far better way forward for our profession. And I think that NCTE, more than anything, was an inspiration to fight for that.

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