Teacher Voice

Teachers, It's Time to Make Our Voices Heard

Educators today face many challenges that did not exist years ago. Amidst evaluation documentation, learning and mastering new standards, being a filter between the world and their students, it is easy for us to become mentally and emotionally exhausted. It is time we as educational professionals stand together to support one another in these challenges. Recently I was fortunate enough to work on developing a report about the Common Core State Standards and their implementation. Eleven teachers nationwide participated in an online forum called VIVA Idea Exchange. We discussed key problematic areas around the new standards that were identified as areas of concern. We then went from identifying problems to developing concrete, positive solutions for each area of concern. The wonderful thing about the project was that the goal of our report was to deliver positive solutions. It really made me think about how to solve some of the problems that I have been complaining about for the last few years. After finishing the report, those of us who led the writing effort were invited to Washington, D.C., to present our recommendations to policy leaders at the U.S. Department of Education, the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and the Center for American Progress (CAP). As excited as I was for the opportunity to present, I prepared myself for a fight. I was convinced it was my job to fight tooth and nail until I felt heard. I was shocked by the responses we received from leaders. Their faces, smiling. Their attitude, positive. Their response: “We hear you and we love your recommendations.” I felt empowered by their gratitude for the time we took to create specific and feasible solutions. This experience will inspire me to continue to speak up at my state and local level. As the end of the school year nears and inevitably we teachers are faced with spring concerts, field days, fun days, field trips, finals, grading, report cards, cleaning, testing, and preparing your evaluations—I hope my fellow teachers will stop and reflect. Take a moment to evaluate what made you get into this profession. Now look inside yourself for a second. Are you willing to sit by and feel like all of these stressors are happening to you? Or instead, are you willing to speak up, allow your voice to be heard and advocate for change? You may be surprised at how empowered you will feel. There really is power in positivity.  
Paige Dulaney is a first-grade teacher from a rural school district in Colorado.
Paige Dulaney is a first-grade teacher from a rural school district in Colorado. She teaches at a one-track school, which has led to different challenges than those often faced by larger school districts.

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