Several weeks ago, “How do educators collaborate within a building to better their professional practice? What would make such collaboration easier/better?” was the #edchat topic. I enjoyed participating in this chat because I have had major concerns about the lack of cross curricular planning and collaboration among the staff in my school. Despite the hard work of my administrator, our staff lacks the collaboration and consensus of what ideals and goals we share. A portion of our staff is trying to find ways to make themselves better while others are simply collecting a paycheck. However, call me an idiot if you would like, I truly believe every teacher entered the profession for a reason other than the summer vacations. If pressed hard enough, even the tech reluctant teacher could be enticed to join a community like Twitter and find it a valuable resource.
The major obstacle for most teachers is time. I recently read an article that said U.S. teachers spend more time teaching than several other countries in the world. Teachers in other countries are given two prep hours and time to collaborate with other staff members. Like most schools in the United States, we aren’t as lucky. I have had to realize that my job will require me to work outside of the school day. I might have to come home from school to work more. But how many teachers feel this way? How many teachers spend time outside of the classroom for professional development? When you ask those teachers why they don’t work outside the classroom, “time” is always the excuse. “Family” is always the scape goat. I may be criticized for saying this but I will stand by my word, “We are at a point in our profession as educators where these excuses are no longer excepted and will not be tolerated.”
If you have read my previous posts, you know I am a mother of three. I have a son that is five, a daughter that is 19 months, and to our surprise, we added a third child one month after our daughter’s first birthday who is now six months old. Life is chaos and can compare to a circus at times. In addition to the make up of our family, my husband is an educator also. He adds to his resume the title of “coach”. From August till May, my husband is continuously coaching a sport. He has coached football. He is the high school and junior high basketball coach, cross-country coach, track coach, and golf coach. This leaves me parenting alone most nights except Sunday and occasionally I get his help on Wednesday and Saturday.
Regardless of my time restraints and other priorities, my job is important to me. Of course, my family is first. I am the only mother my three kids will ever have and I do my job to the best of my ability. But I also take my profession seriously. Even though my pay doesn’t reflect the importance of my job or the time I spend doing it, my heart and mind won’t allow me to slack. I have had to learn to balance life at home and my role as an educator. My main motivation is that I want the teachers who will teach my kids to be the best they can be. In return, I HAVE to be the BEST I can be.
This leads me to the my point. I made a comment several weeks ago on #edchat, “teachers must be willing to collaborate with other teachers outside the school day”. I got several retweets of support and a couple of replies that were more argumentative. One in particular argued that the balance of work and family makes it tough for teachers to participate out of the school day. I call bull crap on this one and this is why.
I have refused to let my current circumstance be an excuse. If being a coach’s widow from August through May with three small children (two who are dependent) doesn’t allow me to make excuses for lack of time, I have a hard time allowing any other excuses from other staff members. I may have to access my PLN with a baby on my hip, and I might have to participate in #sschat and #edchat while spoon-feeding an infant. I will probably have to read educational articles at ridiculous times of the night, and I might have to post this blog at midnight. But my students are worth it.
I look at the teaching profession as the most respected and most important profession in the world. Without teachers; doctors, lawyers, engineers, and business entrepreneurs would not be employed. With or without a college education, a teacher has played a part in everyone’s lives. It is a great feeling to have that kind of impact, but that reward comes with a great responsibility.
As teachers, we must all commit to professionally develop. Excuses about lack of time are not going to cut it. Like I tell my students, “excuses are like arm pits, we all have them and they all stink!” As teachers, we are at a pivotal time in history. We are currently living in a time when the real world has met the old world. Until now, we haven’t realized how fast information has traveled and technology has advanced. But now, we all know. We know our students are preparing for a world that even the brightest individuals cannot predict. As teachers, we are required to teach our students an education for a world that doesn’t exist yet. Excuses for not having the time to professionally develop cannot be a crutch. It is time to put out or get out. A teacher that doesn’t have the time to be a constant, life long learner, is a teacher that has no business committing to be a life long educator.