I know there are days where I compose my own letter of resignation on the drive in to the office. Higher education used to be a place where intellectual freedom and autonomy ruled the decisions we made about courses and curriculum and content. Now we, too, must answer to those outside of education. We are being encouraged to adopt business models, to think about students as potential clients, to remember our BRAND. I echo Gerald Conti when he writes:
STEM rules the day and “data driven” education seeks only conformity, standardization, testing and a zombie-like adherence to the shallow and generic Common Core, along with a lockstep of oversimplified so-called Essential Learnings. Creativity, academic freedom, teacher autonomy, experimentation and innovation are being stifled in a misguided effort to fix what is not broken in our system of public education
But then there are days like today when I sat with my colleagues and we discussed in depth adjustments we need to make to our courses to better reflect the needs of our students and of their future students as well. We talked about plans for a NING which would compile resources and give us the opportunity to reach out to our students in different ways throughout their program. We laughed, we shared lunch, we laughed some more. We made progress. We did something COLLABORATIVELY. And that is why I might mentally compose a letter of resignation from time to time and then mentally rip it to shreds: I have the wonderful opportunity to work with others regularly. We passed around books (TEA REX this meeting), we borrow books and audio from one another, we ask for help from an expert in a field where we have little knowledge (and are, therefore, dangerous).
I know that as a middle school teacher, my team (the content area teachers were grouped in academic teams) met at least weekly to talk about kids and content and classes. We were encouraged to collaborate. And then we went from teams to departments, and all that ended. I missed that collaboration, and I know there are many of you who miss it as well. That is why our PLNs have bcome so important to us all. I start each day with tweets from my PLN (and others) and by reading FB posts from members of my PLN (and others). I look forward to #titletalk and #engchat. I love messaging with Donalyn Miller or going back and forth on FB or Twitter with Paul Hankins or any one of a dozen of som PLN colleagues. Collaboration keeps me fresh and eager. Coming up are two conferences which will provide more opportunities for collaboration and conversation. If you are planning to attend IRA or TLA, I hope we have the chance to meet, to talk, to plot. I just tore up today's letter of resignation.