What happens when you walk into a room of dedicated professionals? They bowl you over with their passion, their heart, their intellect, their collective wisdom. Their 1000% caring about the students in their classrooms and their parents and their communities. What happens is that you feel honored to among them, to listen to them talk, to have your thinking prodded and pushed and more. It begins to transform your heart and it reinvigorates your soul. It makes you believe again.
That's what happened to me last weekend. I was in the presence of giants in my field. 20+ of the most dedicated teacher professionals I've ever met. All together. All united in trying to improve things for kids...not even for themselves...but for kids. Trying to solve unsolvable problems and trying to go against huge odds.
Story after story about the "extra" mile they'd been to make that one kid successful. So many the miles became too many to count...and you know, I think they'd go a million more if they thought it would make a difference. These are the people that movies should be made of (no hyperbole intended) because they are extraordinary people who wield their teaching craft to improve our future one student at a time.
But don't mistake this crowd for that sweet thing....the razor sharp intellect will tear you to shreds if you challenge it with malice. (Teachers are a protective bunch, especially of their students!!!) Here is where the craft of teaching, where the teaching practice is keenly attuned to what kids need, how we can best deliver it and the visioning skills to get there. Each of these teachers' eyes revealed that they knew "everything" about their students and what it would take to get them to understand the curriculum, pass those tests, and more importantly....grow up and be better for having been in the classroom.....the biggest computer database resided in these teachers.
So what? So what does all this mean beside some soppy story? I think it means that there are a small but powerful group of teachers who mean to take back the day. They've had it with politicians and bureaucrats running the show. They want a voice in helping to determine what will really help kids. They're no longer willing to sit by and watch the show. They're amassing themselves, arming themselves with knowledge and vision-casting something that will change the status quo. This should scare the daylights out of those in control who are unreasonable and be a hallelujah to those who welcome knowledgeable experts. And what may be the sweetest thing is that no one that I heard or saw had a "secret" agenda (although I suppose it wouldn't be secret if I could see it).....this group worked for the common good of all. Democratic action in a pure form....active citizens and citizenship unwilling not to be called to the table anymore.
I am humbled to be a small part of this group of dedicated teachers. My heart will not be still and I am empowered to risk myself again. I am willing to speak up for the children in my room and beyond...especially for the neediest children of our country who deserve to have our best teachers.
How good it is to feel that I am not just a helpless citizen who cannot change the future.