We Won’t Lose

You don’t have to be indoctrinated by these loser teachers that are trying to sell you on socialism from birth. 

Trump, Jr.

Loser teachers.

Indoctrinated.

We can safely ignore the rest of that quote as people of Junior’s ilk fill it with whatever hateful or fearful rhetoric that suits their needs with their given audience. Some could say that this isn’t that big of a deal. This was said by a person who is simply trying to please daddy, make a name for himself, and continue to ride the coattails of wealth, hate mongering, and fear.

Maybe there is a small truth to that. Junior isn’t a real player in today’s political scene. He simply has a microphone as a result of his father’s position, a theme that is constant in his life. But, it would be foolish to dismiss these words. It is foolish to ignore any rhetoric that comes from someone associated with the current group of power.

That group has seized control of the government—for the moment—based on an excellent use of rhetoric. They plant seeds in the country’s lexicon. First, it was the economy under President Obama. Second, they began to question inane things such as President Obama’s citizenship, creating their first transparent, public statement fueled by outward racism. Then, it was mocking the handicapped. Then, it was about marginalizing women, the LGBTQ community, and basically anyone who wasn’t the right kind of white male. Then, it was turning a blind eye towards hate groups, saying that some of them weren’t bad people. Then, it was immigrants.

All of those actions started as words, tiny seeds planted within speeches, lines thrown in while a crowd was in a frenzy. Those seeds grew. Laws changed. Actions changed. Tone changed. Hatred became proliferated and seen as acceptable to spew in public. Equally as dangerous, it is seen as acceptable to act upon in public.

Society has, indeed, lost its way. It is naive to think that evil in all its forms didn’t exist since we inhabited this place. But, recently, it has seemingly become accepted for hate to be blatantly put on display and accepted. Yes, we cannot censor voices. We have to hear all sides, even the ones we don’t like hearing: the irrational, the evil. But, we can never allow hate to be accepted and acted upon. We are fighting a battle; it may seem like it is a political battle, but it is larger than that.

This is not about socialism.

One more time…

Junior and his father’s words that call attention to socialism is not the battle.

Do not get lost in the carefully, well chosen sentence used by junior or his dad that tries to create a fear of shifting a government ideology. The fear part of the statement—the part about socialism—is meant to distract you from the real target and the real end game.

The real target is control. The real target is removing resistance to hatred. The real target is about minimizing the group who can mobilize a large group of people who are empowered, compassionate, intelligent, and skilled.

Call us losers; it’s ok. The more you want to use names, the easier our job becomes. The mission becomes crystal clear. As passionate as we are about our job, we are fueled by this challenge. You can use words like “indoctrinate” and “socialism” to maybe cloud it for people outside of the profession. But, you couldn’t have done a better job to make our mission as clear as possible. We will teach kids the skills necessary to be successful in whatever they want to pursue in life. We will teach them the skills necessary to read with a keen eye, to avoid being tricked by rhetoric that clouds the real meaning. And, we will help develop the most important quality of all, humanity.

We won’t lose.

Some politicians may have the stage to spew hatred, furthering hatred by perpetuating racism, and marginalizing people who don’t fit their profile. They have that stage. But, our battle is bigger than their stage. And, our stage is more long lasting.

Our mission is to join kids like Emma Gonzalez and young people who are already showing and acting upon the courage to stand up for themselves. Our battle is to not only join them in the fight for humanity, but it is our responsibility to arm them with the skills so they can bring balance back to humanity. Actually, their generation has the power to do what we failed to do; they can truly change it for good. We are not here to play politics or brainwash kids. We are here to educate. By doing so, and by doing it in the right way, we will help those kids win that battle for humanity.

The Teaching profession is in this battle, whether people want to believe it or not. Curriculum demands are there, but they are merely an opportunity. That opportunity is for us, the educators, to make the next generation more open and more compassionate. We must give them opportunities to show that their voice matters, opportunities to grow their voice, and opportunities to hone their voice. Their voice must be developed to battle all the noise out there in the world right now.

There certainly is a whole lot of noise out there in the world. Many times, it can be difficult to see what all of this is really for. Every day, it seems to get uglier. We have a leader who belittles everyone who doesn’t agree with him, look like him, or think like him. Every day, we have a group of people trying to seize control, disregarding people who need help, as if they aren’t humans at all. With the world in such a seemingly ugly place right now, the idea of compassion seems to be buried under hateful rhetoric, fearful rhetoric, or worse–indifference.

But, the educators are here.

Donald Trump, Jr. may have said that we are “loser teachers”, but that isn’t going to stop us.

We will bring more passion than ever to our classrooms, to our buildings, and to our districts each day. We will teach kids those skills that will help them communicate, change things, and make things better. They will learn how to write with voice and purpose. They will learn to read with a critical eye, looking beyond the surface to find true meaning. They will learn those math and science skills that will lead to amazing discoveries that will benefit all people, not just a perceived privileged few. They will learn to create through the arts and the humanities. And, they will take all of that and win back humanity.

Our job is more important than ever before. More are realizing this to be true. More teachers are not only teaching those curricular skills, but are incorporating mindfulness. They are encouraging creation, free thought, and giving the students the ability to beyond the rote tasks. Teaching has never been as complicated and as exciting as it is right now. And, that will only continue to grow.

It will grow because everything we do in the education field completely battles all of the actions and beliefs of the current group of power. It will grow because the education field is banding together, getting better at our craft, collaborating more, and truly finding practices that make schools better for kids.

In my own little part of the world, I see young teachers joining our ranks every day. They aren’t just new, naive, and satisfied with following ancient practices. They are young, innovative, and eager. I see a group of teachers at my district’s alternative high school come together each day with a passion for kids who need another opportunity. Once, those kids were discarded. But, now, those kids have people who are passionate, who want to be there, and who genuinely believe in them. Their science teacher is doing cartwheels down the hallway for a science lab. Their social studies teachers are making history come alive and making it relevant to their world. Their math teacher is showing them the power of numbers in the real world. Their English teacher is showing them that they have a voice. Their guidance counselor is setting up college and career fairs for them, showing that them they aren’t discarded and a future is well within reach. Their principal not only keeps order, he’s compassionate, mentors students, and can often be found buying water and snacks for all of the kids in the program. That’s just one building with a young staff who have joined the fight. There are more buildings like that where I work; there are more buildings like that around the country.

Nobody gets discarded.

I work with people who are constantly looking to get better. They not only work at the craft of teaching, but they are realizing that priority one is to make all kids feel valued and safe. When I presented NCTE’s statement on Gender Equity to our department, there wasn’t hesitation. The conversation went immediately to how can we make every kid feel comfortable. Colleagues talked about the nuances of language. We talked about how it is our responsibility to teach writing so that everyone is welcome and nobody is relegated as lesser. Others emailed me books to order to better represent humanity with our literature we use in our classrooms. And, people who had questions or concerns spoke; they were heard. They weren’t mocked or ostracized. And, they weren’t closed off from learning either. Our mission is to make everyone feel valued and wanted. If we can do that, they will know that their voice truly does matter.

Nobody gets minimized.

Just last week, I had the opportunity to co-facilitate a workshop for teachers in my district. This was an after school session that was about how to do homework better. A group of about 15 teachers from throughout our district came to our professional development room after a full day of teaching. They weren’t getting paid for it. They weren’t required to be there. They simply came because they wanted to get better. They wanted to do better for kids.

As we introduced ourselves, I realized that I, along with one other colleague, were the only two secondary education teachers in the room. The remaining were mostly early elementary teachers. Kindergarten, first grade, and second grade teachers were there because they wanted to not only improve their practices, but to find new ways to ignite passions for students. While most of the room was filled with teachers early in their careers, there was one teacher who had been in the field as long as I. She had the courage to talk about how she once assigned homework, going along with the tradition of multiple, rote tasks that required students’ time rather than fostering true passion for learning. She admitted to not truly seeing it until she had her own children and experienced the poor assignments as a parent. She had immediately revamped her whole approach. She researched methods, researched the pros and cons of homework, and researched what could benefit and inspire kids. She figured it out a while ago, turning out groups of inspired learners each year.

Yet, there she was after an eight hour work day, coming to a session to learn more. With nothing to gain other than more tools to help her students, she was there. Why? She wants to get better, stay current, and find new ways to inspire today’s kids who are facing a world where hateful rhetoric is becoming more of the norm.

She is not alone. During that last department I described earlier, I had also asked the department what they would want to learn about during our next district staff development day. The answers were thoughtful and purposeful. Veteran teachers with 20+ years of experience were asking about mindfulness techniques for their students, new ways to development voice in writing, and ways to help motivate reluctant writers.

We are continually seeking ways to improve, to be relevant, and to inspire kids. No matter service time, we are evolving because we know that we must or we risk sending kids out into the world without the skills necessary to empower themselves. We will not educate kids like it is 1930. We won’t even educate kids like it is 2012. Now, more than ever, we are taking professional development seriously, looking at research, and using that to better prepare kids to advocate for themselves and for humanity.

Nobody will leave without being empowered.

And, more reinforcements are on the way.

Just this past week, I was asked to observe a student teacher. The lesson was flawless. I thought back to when I was that age and how this young teacher is light years ahead of where I was then. Her ease in which she helped each individual student write, conferencing with them, having genuine interactions was that of a veteran. As kids spoke, she validated them as writers, as students, and, most importantly, as people. Students who were a bit reluctant were put at ease with every kind word, every suggestion. The lesson was impressive. She was impressive. She will be one of those great teachers. You can just tell.

The next day was inspiring.

She came to see me in order to get my feedback. She wants to improve. But, the most powerful moment came from this soon-to-be college graduate when she said, “I am fortunate enough to know this early exactly what I want to do in life. This is what I’ve always wanted to be.”

With people like her coming into our profession, adding to the already impressive collection of passionate educators, we get stronger. We get better. Our kids benefit.

Every child will have an advocate. Every child, no matter what.

All of that is happening in my own district. And, I know that it is happening all over the country and world. Educators are sharing information, techniques, research, and even more ways to improve the profession on a global level. That comes through social media, professional organizations, conferences, and whatever other ways teachers can collaborate. It may have taken a bit longer than it should have to get here, but the profession isn’t bound to certain areas. We can all share best practices. We can all share our insights of how to best meet the ever changing needs of the kids in our classrooms.

Loser teacher?

Nope.

You can’t distract us from the mission. You see, for a lot of us, it’s what we were meant to do and nothing, not even disparaging words, a person in charge of education who wants the public sector to go away, corruption, low funding, poorly constructed mandates, or people who want to use us as rhetoric to advance political agendas can distract us.

We will continue to teach. We will continue to get even better at teaching. We will continue to help kids to develop skills to create, to communicate, and to advocate. We will continue to model the belief that nobody is lesser and that every person has value. We will continue to model that we should help all people when they need help. We will continue to empower kids to restore balance to humanity.

That isn’t politics.

That’s education. And, that’s what scares people like junior. They know that everything we do, everything we stand for, and everything we are developing in our students is the exact opposite of their attempts to disparage, exclude, and mistreat people. As long as we are around and doing our jobs, we are naturally fighting against hate. We aren’t fighting for a change in our political structure. We are fighting for our humanity.

We won’t lose.