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Episode 4.5 | Courageous - Educator Edition


Season One | Episode 4.5

 

I once said on a panel discussion that "teaching can be just as lucrative and progressive as any other career… doctor, lawyer, or businessman or woman on Wall Street." The ballroom of educators gasped then took the ride with me. We see our work at Revolve as a way to lift teachers in urban and historically marginalized communities out of the poor profession mindset and into seeing the profession of teaching as a fruitful, meaningful, impactful career where we move the needle of social justice, empowerment, and advocacy. We still need the kids to say, "I want to be a teacher when I grow up." There is no better place for children to learn than from teachers who love what they do and see their impact on their children's lives.


Would that child in your classroom that says they want to be a teacher when they get older still want to be a teacher after they have had you as their teacher?


Read on for the blog post covering everything and more from this episode.

 

I once had a parent-teacher conference with the parents of a student that was below grade level in reading by quite a bit. I stayed up all night devising a plan for how I was going to get him caught up. Long story short, his parents came in and told me,

"Ms. Reed, he doesn't need all that reading work because he is going to the league."

He was talking about professional football. I was stunned! I never considered the competing perspectives that the student had to go through between what I was pushing him to invest in with education and where his parents believed his energy should go.


As an educator, it's not your job to crush dreams. But, it is our job to expose students to other options they may want to consider in addition to their non-academic talents. I think about that student often and the amount of courage he needs to even express to the adults closest to him that he has an interest in something other than sports. It takes a significant amount of courage to stand up for what you believe in, especially if your family and society are trying to tell you that you are only useful if you do a handle full of socially acceptable and stereotypical careers.


This reminds me about what we talked about for episode 1.5 about legacy. What type of educator will you be remembered as? When we connect that with this concept of courage you have an opportunity. Teach them what else is possible, be that person that opens their eyes beyond their neighborhood or any limiting beliefs others have around them.


The vision of playing professional sports is one that many parents feel will lead their whole family into a "better" life. Rarely are families discussing the odds of playing at that level from collegiate through league play. That number is a very small percentage. I suggest looking it up and sharing this with your students that have aspirations of playing professional sports. Support their future dreams and goals with more options to be used if it doesn't happen. It's just a backup plan. Like the parachute on an airplane you hope you don't have to use it, but if you need it is there)


Given the country's current state, we need to note and acknowledge that students are watching their teachers. They will be looking closely at how you speak to them and about them. They will recognize the nuance of language and any bias. They are looking for role models that are advocating for them in an honest and focused way. They are watching you right now be courageous in the face of great adversity!


At the Education Without Representation panel discussion, Carmita Semaan (Founder and President of The Surge Institute) sparked some great extensions of thought. In discussing the talent gap of educators, she mentioned the connection between the broader goals of the social- emotional learning (SEL) movement for students and the inherent deficit mentality of adults servicing children. It made me wonder how much real estate are we really putting into adult emotional learning and constancy, especially now? Carmita said, "We can't expect students to break through our areas of brokenness." It takes an enormous amount of work to do the deep work as a school leader and educator to unearth internal bias and replace them with progressive mindsets.


What are we doing to support that?

If we want students well versed with the emotional capacity to continue with this long road ahead of us in to bring long-overdue equity into this country, then they need to learn how to do that from the trusting adults in their lives.

I challenge all educators (especially educators committed to historically marginalized communities) to think about these questions:

  • Do you believe that all students already have great potential and that your role is to unlock it with relevant teaching and learning?

  • Will you have the courage to stand up for what is right and what our students deserve?

  • When you hear another teacher or school leader using limiting bias language to describe his/her students, will you have the courage to stand up to it?

If you don't believe you do, I would encourage you to rethink and reflect on whether that is the right teaching environment for you to remain in and if you truly believe that all your students have the full potential for greatness without limitations.

 

You will find the EDUCATOR EDITION- Questions to Connections Worksheet for this episode on the word COURAGEOUS here!

If you are new here, check out our Path to Meaningful Connections resource!

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