This summer as I've read the tweets from various education conferences, I've noticed an interesting development. Dancing on tables and singing party songs all of which are intended to allow teachers to feel empowered and inspired.
Mountaintop experiences are enjoyable, but they simply are not sustainable. Sir Winston Churchill said, "Mountaintops inspire leaders but valleys mature them." Teachers go to conferences to learn new strategies to help their students. Being inspired and empowered by a mountaintop experience may help teachers return to their positions, but will it really change how they teach or approach education? Could it actually set teachers up for frustration when they realize that these grand ambitions may not work with their administration or state requirements? Mountaintop experiences are inspiring for teachers, but they need support within their school to find the inspiration to continue to teach.
I am not regularly a nay sayer. I tend to look at the positives rather than the negatives. Life is an adventure, and as Andy Rooney said, "Everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all of the happiness and growth occurs while you're climbing it." We need teachers to feel inspired by their students. It is for the students that most teachers entered the profession. Yes, we do need teachers to be able to relax, cut loose, and sing and dance for joy. But, they must also be supported as they sing the praises of their students to their communities so that communities will begin to support schools and trust their teachers.
Twitter continues to connect teachers from across the globe. Now, teachers need to also connect with the community they are working to educate. Utilize technology to share videos and student work with parents and local businesses. Ask businesses to partner with a local school to help students understand the skills necessary to be successful. We can do this work together joyfully!
As all married couples know the wedding is just your first 20 minutes of a lifetime together. It takes work to keep a couple together. So, too, must a school must support their teachers and help them learn to find the joy in teaching. Help teachers mature as they traverse the valleys of education.
I leave you with a request. What do you do to support your teachers? How do you help them find and maintain their inspiration to continue teaching?