“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.” – Robert Louis Stevenson
There are many story tellers who can connect with us , form an immediate relationship, grasp our hearts and convince us to act or change behaviours or just bask in the glory of their use of language. They can be writers, singers, comedians or politicians. We have much to learn from them when we find ourselves in the awkward situation of responding to negative comments about public education.
In a recent article “From Spin to Win”, Doug Reeves suggests that rather than engaging in counter-punch rhetoric suggesting that we are not quite as bad as our critics suggest, we should engage in a proactive presentation of facts.
He articulates six strategies we should consider which might augment a more fruitful level of public engagement
1. Embrace accountability and responsibility
2. Demand 21st Century Skills assessments
3. Reclaim the arts
4. Affirm leadership, service and citizenship
5. Get the budgets right
6. Admit mistakes
It is difficult to respond to comments about our profession if we only react to comment and concern. Public education and educators are sometimes bullied into having inferiority complexes, when we should be extolling the wonderful achievements I see on a daily basis in our schools and classrooms. Spending extended times in school as Ken Dryden (former Montreal Canadians Hockey star) did would provide such a picture of the power and excellence of schools. However not all citizens have such time.
We as teachers and leaders need to be more proactive in telling our story.
While it may be uncomfortable at first, we must develop the skills of story tellers. Through the power of observation and production we should extol the success we see daily. We need to learn to recognize a story or opportunity, figure out the best way to tell the story, and then find the opportunity to present the story in its full impact and to the smallest and largest audience. We need to find the compelling images that tell our story and will replace the older images that exist in the minds of the community. As teachers we need to develop and communicate images that reflect 21st century strategies, the use of technology in schools, the social responsibility initiatives that exist in our schools, the collaborative and cooperative ventures that support the new methodologies of our profession.
It is our responsibility to intentionally communicate accurate images and stories to our parents, our partners, and to the community. How we tell our story will influence public perception.
“It is indeed ironic that we spend our school days yearning to graduate and our remaining days waxing nostalgic about our school days.” – Isobel Waxman