Flipping the teacher narrative

Educator Bryan Christopher, a recent Editor’s Choice winner, recognized for his article  "Help us help you": An educator's letter to Betsy DeVos, describes the nation’s recent journey to confirming a new US Secretary of Education as a time of extremes, and not necessarily reflective of the bipartisan work of teaching.

“As I was navigating through the dialogue, the reactions to [Betsy DeVos’] appointment and her Senate hearing, and as the details of her agenda were laid out, I felt like there was a great lack of moderate views -- a great lack of anything other than extreme support or extreme opposition,” Christopher said during an interview on Education Talk Radio.

“The work [public-school teachers] do is bipartisan in nature,” Christopher noted. “We continue to teach the kids and deliver our curriculum regardless of who is leading our country or state. That curriculum may change, and some of the policies may shift, but we go to work every day, and we teach everybody who walks through our doors.”

And that’s the story he says policymakers need to know.

Flipping the script

“Very often teachers get lumped into ‘part of the problem’ when it comes to education policy,” Christopher said, adding that “some teachers have a reputation for being stubborn, have a reputation for being resistant to change.”

This is where teacher narratives come into play as change makers.

“The teachers I have worked with have been very much problem-solvers -- very open to change, provided that change will help them deliver a product that is better than the one that currently exists in the classroom,” Christopher said.

“The more we can share those narratives, the more we can change the storyline away from ‘what teachers don’t have’ and ‘what teachers need’ and ‘what support teachers aren’t getting,’ [the more]we can listen to and talk more about the problems that they are solving and the scalable models that they’ve created to help students succeed more in their own classrooms.”

Bryan Christopher is a recent winner of the monthly Editor’s Choice Content Award. Want to hear more? Listen to the full interview.

Melissa Greenwood is the director of education content for SmartBrief.

___________________________________

Like this article? Sign up for ASCD SmartBrief to get news like this in your inbox, or check out all of SmartBrief’s education newsletters, covering career and technical education, educational leadership, math education and more.