Will You Stay Cold or Light a Fire?

Teachers are awesome. They are this group of people who put others before themselves. Many times before their families and social lives. They care more than you can imagine. Teachers take a lot of abuse. They allow things to just roll off their backs because they know what they are doing is the right thing and is for the betterment of society. While, thanks to social media, we have many leaders emerge and take stands, there is still a majority out there that are so busy putting others first, they aren’t taking a stand for the career they have put everything into. Because of this, I am starting to worry about education system of this country. We are starting a new year, I think with this new year, we need to say something. There is power in numbers and there are a lot more teachers out there than there are politicians. It is time to fight for our jobs. It is time to stand up for what is right.

If you are curious to what I am talking about, here are two examples:

  1. A few months ago my state, Alabama, got a new State Superintendent. Our former one “got it,” he understood students, teachers, and curriculum. Our new one, Michael Sentance, has a degree in American Studies and a law degree. He went from Assistant Attorney General of Massachusetts to their Undersecretary of Education then Secretary of Education. He’s never worked in a school, has no degree, and no experience. He also has no certification. He may have great ideas, but without experience does he even know if his ideas will work? How does this make those of us that are in schools feel? Those who have taken classes after classes on best practices, curriculum, and school management and are still paying for those classes with no pay raise for almost 7 years? But our government thinks that he is an expert yet teachers can’t get supplies and respect they deserve.
  2. Then, Betsy DeVos has been named as the President Elect’s US Secretary of Education. My first thought was to be glad it wasn’t Michelle Rhee. But then I read her resume. Again, a US Secretary of Edu without an education degree. But it gets worse. She has never even attended a public school. We laugh in education at how everyone is an expert because they went to public school, she didn’t. Her kids have never attended public schools. She’s never worked in education. She did lobby for Detroit, I’ll let you read this and form your own opinion.

So yeah, teachers are taking hits. You have to wonder what these degrees are actually worth. The years of preparing for walking into classrooms are for naught. Almost 60% of us have higher degrees, not many professions can boast that. We need to speak up. We need to start proving our expertise. While shopping on Black Friday I saw this quote from Horace Traubel, “If the world is cold, make it your business to build fires.”


I think it’s time to start building fires. Not time to be defiant (we are teachers, we like rules) but time to take a stand. Stop allowing others to put down our profession and taking away our voice. Naturally teachers are nurturers we put everyone else before us, we chose a profession out of love not need to make a lot of money. But if we keep rolling and not asking for help from the community and politicians while educating them, then we can’t expect things to get better. Start here with signing and sharing this petition to Congress.

Where Is That Bridge Over the Digital Divide?

I made a joke the other day that there was an entire generation of people that has no idea why people are looking at their phones and raising eye brows and opening their mouths. (If you are one of them, Snap Chat has filters that change when you raise your eye brows or open your mouth.) While I said it as a joke, I started thinking about the fact that this is true. No not everyone needs to know how to Snap Chat but adults need to know what kids are doing when using phones/internet. Especially teachers.


I live on the side of a mountain in Alabama. We had snow/ice/sleet last night so spent the night at my parents’ house to avoid getting stranded (they also have more food and a generator if power goes out). While snooping in my childhood bedroom I found a note passed to me from a friend back in middle school. While I found “so was Space Jam any good, I think we are going Friday” hilarious, of course it was awesome, the rest made me stop and think. She was ranting about our Spanish teacher going on and on about something that happened 20 years ago. She said, “why would I care about something that happened that long ago, she needs to worry about today.” So this may have just sounded like typical bored middle schooler but I had just had a conversation with my mom that made this hit home.

Earlier I was telling my mom about how I was explaining to some teachers that if Google Suite makes their lives easier, then they need to remember it can help their students’ lives easier. After talking about a few more conversations like that she looked at me and said, “you have to wonder how many times a day students look at teachers and think, why can’t they get it, they are so old and behind the times” she then said, “it is like there is a language barrier without anyone to interpret for each group.” Huh. She may be right.

When I was in grad school I had to do so many projects on the digital divide and “haves” versus “have nots” when it came to technology usage. We learned that people with money used tech and those without did not. I think our digital divide has shifted. When I pause and look at education and technology, our kids get it and find ways to get/use technology. That socioeconomic divide is getting smaller everyday, but a new divide is taking over. The new digital divide is from those resistant to use technology with students and those that use it as best as they can. The ones finding ways to use it are speaking the language and meeting the needs of the students that need the technology. They get that students don’t have pencils because outside of school work, there are not uses for them. They get that since they use digital calendars for everything at their place of business, this may work for their students as well. I get the push back all the time, I don’t like having my students use Google Docs because that is not what they will use in business, they need Word. I get that, but how many of your students have computers with Word? I bet that number is drastically less than the number of students who have smart phones or tablets with a Google Doc app. We need to use what is best for them, now.

I understand, technology is hard. But if we want to reach all students, we need to try to speak their language. We need to get to their side of the divide. Maybe even make a funny video raising our eyebrows?