Educators Need to Empower Themselves

As educators do we tend to focus on the little things as a way to avoid the larger issues. How empowered do you feel as an educator?
Over the years I’ve been in education I see educators feeling a lack of empowerment. I’ve noticed that educators tend to focus on the little things rather then the bigger issues at hand.  Often times that don’t see how the bigger issues impact those little matters.  The idea that everything is connected to everything else is foreign to them.
What do I mean by all of this?  First, I’ve seen teachers often get involved in squabbling about who gets to use the copier first or a printer being out of paper and who’s going to get more paper, or having to do some small task. Then when it comes time to focus on issues that impact an educator, e.g. administrators making a decision with no input from the educators, they rationalize that “we can’t do anything about it.”
What is at the root of this? First, I think in many of these cases we are still in that one class schoolhouse mentality. Where nothing exists, in some parts, outside the confides of their own classroom.  Decisions made outside of the classroom, whether in-district, regionally, state, or nationally won’t effect what goes on inside the classroom. Secondly, teachers aren’t real risk takers. Not to say that in other professions the same isn’t true, but with educators it is our obligation to be more aware. Education is the basis of all we do and therefore we should educate ourselves to the bigger picture.
Need some examples?  When speaking to teachers prior to the election the year Christie was elected governor would try to get them to see the impact of what his election would mean to educators. Many thought, “ He’ll be great as the governor in New Jersey. We need someone who isn’t afraid to speak his mind and take a stance.” Only to be shocked when he was elected and immediately went on the attack against teachers.
Another? When teachers decided to take a pay freeze thinking that in the long run that would curry more favor. Later, in a state of shock when they discover that the only impact that decision had was to make the teachers look weaker and willing to cave on other issues that impacted them. 
Now when the focus appears more centered around testing then ever before, educators feel even more helpless.  With so much of the emphasis on PARCC testing, educators need to unite to bring about changes to this emphasis on testing. We must end this focus on testing and return to what education should truly be about, teaching higher level thinking skills and making connections between learning and real life lessons.

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