Hypothetically speaking, let’s say you’re a blogger writing about education and a whole mess of other stuff that permeates the experiences you have as an educator looking inward and outward, trying to seek solutions to complex and amorphous situations.
Let’s say you decided to look at the landscape of writing about education through this lens. You see messages and e-mails asking you why you put your name out there, no pseudonym, in a land where central district offices want to block and fire teachers with dissenting opinions, follow and interrogate teachers who pose hard questions on Twitter, or only highlight the teachers who please corporate sponsors and / or proffer ed-tech solutions. While the rhetoric sounds supportive of the “best” teachers, the policies themselves call worsening working (and learning) conditions. Congress and the White House continue to bundle the social safety net of America and prepare it on a cutting board, directly affecting the works of educators for everyone except the most privileged.
Your last message asks you if the person should keep her blog around in an environment like this. Your answer is hell yes.
As writers in the education field, we have a right, a privilege, and for many of us, a responsibility to tell the truth about our professions. The “best” of us can do it through anecdote or diatribe, but these finely honed skills matter none if we don’t use them to affect and effect social change. Speaking up and out about our daily struggles, the way we approach our craft, and the passion with which we inspire may prompt the next educator to look at their classrooms a little differently the next morning.
As writers who sun-light as teachers, we have an extra responsibility to the students we serve, and to do so in a way that encourages others to see themselves as teachers, as not alone, as not naive for having stayed when the best rewards are called “small victories.” With kids stuck in little cubicles in front of computers getting programmed like The Matrix in pilot programs, high-stakes standardized assessments stripping time from children who need as much time as possible to learn, and “non-profit” lobbies pegging teachers, parents, and students against each other in the name of kids (who didn’t ask their help, mind you), teacher-writers have the insight necessary in a dialogue bereft of voices from the classroom.
Indeed, you might have grander inspirations. You might have a manuscript in need of someone to believe in its marketability. You might have a few unfinished lesson plans and web sites you signed up to finish. You might be traveling to a few places along the way, but hoping your family doesn’t resent you for finding your Personal Legend.
You have a job. You’re tired. The school year is almost over. You’re tired of the nonsense. Something’s gotta g ive. You don’t want to stop because you know someone’s reading semi-religiously. You have to stop because you’re going at a blinding speed. Your heart hurts. So does your back. Your teeth hurt not from smiling, but from gnawing and snickering.
You’ll never get your voice out like this. You take a step back, and stand there for a minute. Your kids matter. You need this step back so you can run forward. Don’t stop blogging. Just hope that the next time you do, it inspires someone to kick more ass.