Like many others, I’d like to take time after this holiday weekend to reflect on my blessings and particularly the things in my life for which I am grateful. As an educator, there are some specific reasons I’m thankful for my lot in life—and why I look forward to the future of my profession.
Technology. There are really no barriers anymore when it comes to educators connecting to each other and finding resources that enhance their classroom experiences. I have “colleagues” online who I’ve never met in person but influence my day-to-day activities as an educator. The technology of communication and connection has made it so that there has never been a better time to be in business of teaching, from pre-K to college campuses.
New teachers. As a dean in a school of education, I see the innovation that this generation of educators is bringing to our profession, and it’s exciting to watch. Being around teachers at the beginning of their careers is refreshing and a constant reminder that teaching is not linear; it should constantly evolve to meet the demands of our ever-changing students.
HBCUs. I feel very fortunate to work at a Historically Black College and appreciate the tradition I’m steeped in when I step on campus every day. Critics may question the modern relevance of HBCUs in the wider university landscape, but the continued push for diversity and an elevated quality of life for traditionally disadvantaged students that I see every day on campus makes me proud to call one my home.
Freedom of ideas. The implementation of Common Core Standards has brought a spirited (to put it lightly) debate to K-12 education unmatched in recent years by any other initiatives. While I wholeheartedly disagree with those who call for an end to the standards or imply that they are negative in any way, I have to appreciate the fact that such passion exists. American educators are never content to simply accept the reform that is handed down to them, but consistently question if such reform is truly the right thing for students. I’m thankful that my voice is never silenced, and that I have the exposure to every side of an educational issue so I can form my own opinions.
Limitless opportunities. Growing up in Mississippi, I never dreamed of the places I’d live and work that would take me out of my home state. Teaching has given me so many opportunities outside of the typical job description—to be a blogger, an author, a voice for diversity and a leader. Teaching has taken me into classrooms, and well beyond them, in pursuit of a shared goal: finding the best way to reach the most American students with learning.
Matthew Lynch is a writer, activist and the Dean of the School of Education, Psychology, & Interdisciplinary Studies and an Associate Professor of Education at Virginia Union University. He spent seven years as a social studies and special education teacher in Mississippi—an experience that gave him a view of the challenges facing education reform. His articles and opeds appear regularly in the