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What Teachers Do Right

Changing the Narrative: Finding What Teachers Are Doing Right

When I left my full time teaching job back in June to work part time for NCTE, one of the things I said I wanted to do this year was to visit classrooms and be inspired by the teaching profession again. Bogged down by my own exhaustion but more importantly, tired of the incessant public narrative that portrays teachers as incapable and incompetent to the point where we don't deserve any autonomy nor adequate compensation for the tireless work we do, I am setting out to change that dialogue.

So I decided I would perform my own little educational experiment: to visit the classrooms of friends and people I've met through social media and celebrate what they're doing right instead of contributing to toxic narrative the American public is being fed via politicians and the media.

Today I had one of those inspirational experiences I've been looking for.

My friend Kaitlin, whom I used to work with, is currently teaching a history class at the Mercy Education Project in Detroit for women who are working on getting their GED. The class I sat in on today was extremely small, only six women, but their passion for learning was monumental, as was their determination to make a better life for themselves and their families. I was honored and humbled to sit in on such a class.

Not only does Kaitlin teach these lovely women history, but she finds ways to tie in current events to what they're learning, she looks for resources to give voice and multiple perspectives to history, and I was even able to witness a beautiful moment at the end of class when one of Kaitlin's students said, "This makes me want to go out and vote."
Kaitlin reads from HEART AND SOUL by Kadir Nelson to give an African American perspective from the Revolutionary War

To watch these women who have had what is likely a lifetime of disappointing educational experiences, be so involved and excited about their learning was so uplifting to see.

I was looking for inspiration and I found it. I hope I can keep this momentum going. 

Thanks Kaitlin and to everyone at the Mercy Education Project for allowing me to come in and observe today and for being so welcoming. You all inspire me so -- mission accomplished!