Please read the following article published by The Washington Post, as my thoughts are based upon it.
DeVos criticized teachers at D.C. school she visited — and they are not having it
I have been through many emotions regarding the changes in education, and the leadership our nation now has in place. I began at disbelief and refusal to entertain the idea of someone leading the Department of Education who has not one ounce of background in public education. The idea was (and still is) ludicrous, and I simply pushed it to the side, not thinking it would happen. Reality began to set in, and I moved from disbelief to fury. I actually allowed it to consume me, losing sleep and fretting over the future of education and our kids. I began to think of my son, who is in his second year of college as a secondary education major…what does the future hold for him? I admit…I shared my strong opinions with politicians, through social media, with my school family, and anyone else who would listen.
When Mrs. Devos was confirmed, I was at school in the hallway. I looked at Twitter to find an update and discovered the news. My fury, my anger…all turned to grief. I had to shut my office door and be alone. It had to sink in. It happened. Some may think it to be silly, but I cried for a moment. Real tears. I was hurt that my voice was ignored, along with the voices of millions who pleaded to find someone qualified to lead education.
Now what? Disbelief. Fury. Sadness. Fear. All desolate emotions that stifle any light of hope from shining through. Mindset. It’s time to change mindsets. This happened. It REALLY happened. What am I going to do about it?
Upon my first read of the article above, I felt the need to become angry for the harsh judgement of the teachers in the school Mrs. Devos visited for a very short period of time. After some reflection, I realize that her comment about teachers being in “receive mode” and waiting to be told what to do is not something one could see in a brief visit. That comment is based on her perception of public schools. Her perception is her reality. She needs to be educated (irony here) to understand our purpose as educators. I lead a school, but so do the staff I serve. They are empowered and trusted to make informed decisions regarding what’s best for their kids. They do not sit around and wait for me to tell them what to do. We model leadership for our kids, so we are all leaders from where we are. My prayer is that Mrs. Devos learns this within her first months as she serves in education. It is a calling and a service, not a position which requires an agenda. If we had to produce one, the one and only item on it would be KIDS.
I tag Mrs. Devos in some of the greatness happening in my school. I share some of my own passions and beliefs with her. I’ve asked her to follow me back so we can learn together. She’s our leader, and I believe leaders can do big things alone. I also believe that everyone leads, but not everyone is worthy of being followed. She will have to prove to me that she is truly out to do what is in the best interests of all kids. I’m approaching this with an open mindset and determination that will allow me to lead with her, along with millions of others who lead in our public schools each and every school day. Our kids need us. ALL of us. I am adamantly against everything Mrs. Devos stands for regarding the privatization of public schools, her opinions on kids with special needs, and many other issues…BUT…I want to lead. I want to be a voice for kids. I want to be heard…
So I will keep tweeting her. I will keep sharing articles about her actions within her role. I will do this with a cautious but open heart because I want to move public education forward. I will do this for the teachers and staff in my school family who lead alongside myself and kids every school day. Mrs. Devos…please join us.
Thank you so much for posting this. Honestly, I was a bit bothered the day she attempted to visit a school and protesters blocked her. I say, let her in! Let her see what we are really doing everyday – the victories, the challenges, the struggles, the successes. We are teachers, and she may be our most challenging student yet! I don’t want teachers to respond with hate, but for us teachers to do what we always do…TEACH. I want our students to know that we love them so much that we will speak up for them, stand up for them, and do all in our power to ensure they have the tools they need to be successful. I want them to know that we don’t operate in fear of the unknown future, but are instead driven by purpose and our passion for education.
Absolutely! Love these thoughts. Thank you for sharing them!
Love this! Your words and description of your feelings and actions, described me exactly.
I’m a work in progress, as I am still wanting to hate! Trying to press forward and accept who has the title, but influence from where I am!
Bethany, this post describes how I feel, but my husband is the only one who has heard me articulate it! 🙂 I agree that we need to let Mrs. DeVos in; she needs to hear our voices and see our work. If we shut her out, her perceptions will not change (what would we think if we were prevented from learning more about a business, organization, team, etc??).
I would also add that some of the things she has said are some of the same things I have heard educators say about education. I’ve heard educators talk about a broken system, about classrooms that look the same as it did 100 years ago, about factory models that are still in use, etc. Let’s STOP talking about those things and start highlighting the incredible work that is happening across the country. Chefs don’t walk out into the dining area and talk about mistakes that were or are being made in the kitchen. They go into the kitchen and fix it or get better at what they do. Doctors meet with other doctors to review cases in order to get better. They don’t talk about what went wrong with the general public. They talk privately with other doctors and make changes. Maybe we have something to learn from them…
If we step back, I think it’s plausible that we all want kids to have an awesome education. Let’s work TOGETHER to improve it! I read the tweets from the school as they defended what they did… Kudos to them for sharing their story. ALL schools need to do that all the time – not just in defense of what they do. Let’s change the narrative! Thank you for your leadership, Bethany!!
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Right on, Jennifer Hogan! I agree with you. No more whining about how some classrooms haven’t changed…change them! It starts at the top with empowering teachers to teach and learn out of the school box. Schools doing this are schools that are changing and evolving for kids.
I hadn’t thought of it this way yet. Thanks for bringing it to my attention so eloquently.