I wish parents could see their children's teachers outside of school. We've all been bathed in the "bad teacher" narrative for so long that when someone mentions a "bad teacher" we just do the head nod. Fortunately, for all of us, that narrative is largely false. Before someone sends me hate mail, of course there are people who should be doing something else, just as you find in any workplace. Understand, that "bad teacher" narrative has a specific purpose...but that's for another blog post. I want to talk about teachers today.
I'm very lucky to know a lot of teachers through my activism. I have very deep respect for them, because not only do they care very deeply about their students and profession, they are also willing to fight like mad to make sure public education is there for everyone's children. That is not just fluff-talk. Some put in long hours researching and writing to educate all of us (some of my favorite teacher-bloggers: Mark Weber, Peter Greene, Marie Corfield, Russ Walsh), some head up volunteer organizations that lift up students, and teachers, and public education (like Marla Kilfoyle, Denisha Jones, Michael Flanagan, and Melissa Tomlinson), some write amicus briefs for the US Supreme Court, and others take the time to do professional development work beyond what their districts provide. They do all of these things on their own time and with their own money. No one is paying them to use their voice for their students and for their profession.
Which brings me to this year's NJEA Convention. I love going and talking with teachers about what they are doing in their classrooms, what they're excited about, what their students are excited about, and what their concerns are. It's also fun to walk the floor and see what the latest and greatest toys, books, tech, and programs are being sold to teachers.
Even with the fancy bells and whistles of the tech stuff, the booksellers' booths are always the busiest. Especially the ones who sell books for the lower grades. After grabbing a late lunch with a friend, we noticed a very long line which snaked across a couple of aisles. We asked what they were all standing in line for, expecting it to be a book signing, but it turned out they were waiting for free books for their classrooms. Free books. For your kids. On a day off. The line was at least 200 people long. I want to share with you a few pictures of the line because you should see what your children's teachers do for them.
From top to bottom: the beginning of the line, to all the way around, to you can't see the end of the line - which was a couple of aisles over from the start. Unfortunately, I didn't get a picture of the little chalk board announcing the times of the giveaways. This line was a good 10-15 minutes before the giveaway started. I hope the pictures "speak a thousand words."
So, on the eve of Thanksgiving...thanks to Maddie's teachers. You know who you are, the ones who put in the extra time, who cared enough to learn more about her and the way she learns, who stood up for her and her rights as a student. Thanks for your patience and your resilience.
I see you.