Earlier this month, I had the honor of serving as a panelist for a webinar held by the Learning First Alliance. The topic was on the results of local elections in 2022 and what the future may hold for local elections in 2023.
The discussion during the webinar prompted me to reflect on how public education has drawn the ire of detractors over the past two years. The actions of educators have been scrutinized, and our schools have become caught up in national debates. With these as our current circumstances, it is easy to understand how those of us leading schools have grown concerned, maybe even afraid. After all, we are human.
It is clear public education is under attack. There are some who seek to upend education as we have known it for generations in our country. This has created perilous working conditions for those teaching in and leading schools. We may find ourselves questioning our decisions and perhaps worrying about possible outcomes. However, in these uneasy times, we must steel ourselves and remain resolute in our mission.
While we may not be able to control what’s happening politically, we must remember that our sphere of control remains large. We control our schools’ climate and culture. We are tasked with creating environments where kids are excited to learn and where adults enjoy working. We must remain focused on what matters and what drew us into the noble profession of education.
A love of learning and working with children is what ignited our passion for teaching. We are here for the kids. We must remember our commitment to ensuring that every student in our schools receives a high-quality education. We are responsible for hiring and retaining the best teachers to educate our society’s most precious resource: our children.
While we are about the work of teaching and learning, we must remember the other side of the job, which is just as important. We are a school’s “Cheerleader-in-Chief.” Amazing things happen each day in each of our buildings and we must commit to telling our own stories and crafting our own narratives. We must harness the power of social media and spread the good news. Additionally, community messages highlighting our good work help us to cultivate relationships and build trust with our parents and other stakeholders.
We are in the middle of a campaign to support public education. We must be strategic in our response. Student voice is a powerful tool, and we must create space for it to be heard. Our students are our consumers. Avenues for their feelings and thoughts to be heard both within our walls and beyond must be developed. Today’s students are passionate, engaged, and eager to partner to create school environments which effectively meet their needs. Let us find ways to provide platforms for their voices to be heard.
School leaders are incredible people. We are not superheroes, but we have amazing gifts. We have heart, and we possess even greater courage. Each day, we show up determined to make a difference so that each of our students can have a better tomorrow. As it has been said, “Education is the profession which makes all others possible.” Let us be courageous enough to remind our country of this fact.
NASSP encourages all members to advocate for their students and schools. Visit actnow.io/rnp4uwz to call on Congress to address the educator shortage crisis.