I believe in a reader’s right to choose.
Strike that, I believe in a child’s right to choose.
I believe in a child’s right to be treated like a person, not a statistic. Not a test grade.
Choose how they learn best.
Choose how they represent their learning.
Choose what they want to read.
Choose how they write.
I believe in choice.
The choice to teach in a way that lines up with your beliefs and meets the needs of your students.
I believe in standing firm on your principles.
I believe in change.
I believe when we offer students the opportunity to be great, they amaze us with their excellence.
I believe teaching is about people, not numbers.
I believe we have lost our way.
I believe there is a way back.
It is the still, quiet voice muffled beneath scores and paperwork and meetings and data.
The still, quiet voice that -- years ago -- urged you to become a teacher in the first place.
I believe that voice has a right to be heard.
And I believe we each have the strength to push that muffled voice from a whisper to a shout -- not just for ourselves; not for the weary eyes, aching feet, boggled brains and burnt out souls of all the teachers across the nation.
No, not only for them -- for me, for you.
I believe that voice has a right to be heard because our children deserve better.
They deserve rooms rich with conversation, laughter that rings through the halls, amazement in the pure joy of learning -- which, let’s be honest -- has been lost beneath the bubble sheets and reading passages and leveled books that bore would-be readers and scientists and Nobel Peace Prize winners at such extreme levels that we have shut down their minds.
I believe our children have the right to be allowed to learn.
I believe change is necessary.
And I believe change is impossible, unless we listen closely.
Listen closely to that still, quiet voice – the one that insists there is a better way.
Because there is. There is a way beyond boxed curriculum sets and test preparation. Beyond extrinsic rewards for minimal expectations. A way beyond what we have let education become.
And if you’ve forgotten your voice, if the demands placed on you have become so stringent that your passion for learning is barely a smoldering ember – put down your clipboard, leave the stacks of papers behind, push open that door and walk outside.
Seek out the playground.
Seek out the children digging in the dirt.
Seek out the boys on the basketball court and the girls doing cheers all lined up in the grassy field. (And yes, seek out the girls playing soccer and the boys reading beneath a tree.)
Seek out the Kindergarteners asking, asking, always asking for more.
Seek out the loner. The angry one. The kids poking bugs with sticks.
Seek out the wisdom in each child, the delight in their faces, the yearning for knowledge.
Fill your lungs with it. Smile, if just for a moment, remembering why you are doing this in the first place.
And let your still, quiet voice rumble and roar.
And be heard.
For you, for your students, for our nation.