I came across an interesting article today: AFT Survey Provides Answers to 'Why Are Teachers So Stressed?'. This article highlighted some of the alarming stats that can be found in the Quality of Worklife Survey Result Report by the American Federation of Teachers. If you have not seen the results, I strongly recommend you check them out. The three graphs below stuck out to me in particular.
The next question you may find yourself asking - What do we do about these results? Clearly, things need to change for teachers if we are going to make teaching a sustainable profession. Some ideas I have are providing adequate professional development for teachers (this means either increasing quality PD opportunities, or decreasing the number of initiatives teachers need to take on each year), inviting more teachers to educational policy meetings, and starting a national movement to promote respect for teachers and the teaching profession. What are your ideas? Please feel free to share in the comments below.
This week, I am fortunate enough to be a guest of the Colorado Education Initiative at the 100K in 10 conference in Chicago. For those unfamiliar with the work of 100K in 10, the overall mission is to "train and retain 100,000 excellent STEM teachers to educate the next generation of innovators and problem solvers". This is done by leveraging and coordinating the efforts of leading organizations working on solving this national problem from a variety of angles. Hopefully, their collective effort will be able to create a new generation of teachers who have the training and support to make this vision a reality.
While gaining insight on the work of the many organizations involved in this conference has been an incredible experience, I found myself desiring clear action steps I can take as a educator to promote productive conversations around the clear need to prepare, support, and retain high-quality STEM teachers. This led me to a string of conversations focused on promoting teacher choice and voice both in the classroom and in educational policy. I believe that as the face of education continues to change, it is imperative that organizations and educational policy makers include classroom teachers in the conversations that will impact their students. As a classroom teacher, I want nothing more than the opportunity to advocate for my students and ensure they have access to a quality education that meets their needs. The question becomes - How do I ensure that I get the chance to engage in the conversation?
During the PechaKucha presentation this afternoon, Dr. Chris Emdin offered a suggestion that spoke to me and my current Edtech interests. When asked about what educators can do to change the national conversation around teachers and the teaching profession, he suggested social media and blogging. He reasoned that even if only a small number of people read your blog, you are still finding avenues to engage in conversations around teaching that are often replicated in a variety of settings. Additionally, engaging in social media communities, such as Twitter chats, allows like-minded professionals to find each other and participate in a larger conversation. It is in these conversations and posts that teacher voice can become heard and shared with a larger audience. I believe that the conversation around education would greatly benefit from the insights and success stories of teachers. I agree that using the tools of social media can help teachers find a space for their voice to be heard. Perhaps, as more of us engage in the conversation, our voice will become louder and we can find productive avenues that allow us to positively impact students both in and out of our classrooms. Only by sharing can we get a chance to engage in the conversation.
Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!
As my school year comes to a close, I find myself dreaming of my summer plans and what tech tools I want to master and use with students next year. At the top of my dream list is Classcraft. I think this tool may have a very neat way to gamify any classroom by bringing graphics like World of Warcraft to a class reward system. Check out the intro video below.
Since our department is moving away from our current homework system, Accelerated Math, I think this may serve as a great way to provide an exciting infrastructure to whatever new homework system we implement for next school year. As I continue to explore this tool, I will be sure to post updates on my progress and findings! Feel free to add to the comments below if you know any useful information about this tool that I could use or if you have any questions!
This week in my graduate course, we were asked to engage in a discussion concerning the power of social media after viewing the video found at https://vialogues.com/vialogues/play/17072/. It is a TED talk focused on the story of a graphic designer who organically started a social media campaign focuses on love and friendship between the people of Israel and Iran. If you have never seen it, you should check it out. It's truly touching. Below is my response to the week's prompt.
While the current trend (for my friends at least) is to view social media as a time suck, I think that social media has incredible power when used to facilitate conversations geared toward positive social change. The power lies in the freedom to publish to the public. Before social media, only major media outlets could get their content in front of thousands of viewers/readers. That level or access is now open for anyone with an Internet connection. While it is similar to blogging, social media is currently far more visual and is literally designed to have an active audience that ‘follows’ you.
My favorite time that social media was used for social change was during the oral arguments for the DOMA Supreme Court Case. The Human Rights Campaign has an article about it here. It was incredibly inspiring to see so many friends and family members change their Facebook profile picture to a red version of the Human Rights Campaign Logo to show their support for marriage equality. I firmly believe that the strong voice being expressed on social media with respect to LGBT rights is a large reason why nationwide approval is at a record high of 61%.
Major media news coverage largely spends it’s time focusing on conflicts and unique events happening across the world. While this is very valuable information to share, it is only one-sided and commonly ends up with many media outlets focused on the exact same story. I believe social media’s defining characteristic is its focus on our common humanity. It is this characteristic that makes it a very powerful kind of media.
Mattea Garcia is a passionate educator dedicated to improving instruction by utilizing technology. This blog is dedicated to reflections on educational technology tools, instructional coaching, and educational equity.