Browsing the archives, I wondered if this post could be considered foreshadowing. At the time, we teachers were very worried about the future of public education. We’re still worried, and we set that worry aside daily while we focus on the task at hand: educating our current students.
It was one of the average days at the lunch table and an average teacher conversation these days – what to do if we get laid off, our salaries go down, the governor gets his way, or all of the above. It was the kind of day when we reflected on our own capabilities and wondered aloud where our futures might lead.
One of the more productive discussions came about through mention of LinkedIn. Many of us have LinkedIn accounts, but few of us are actively using the site. This discussion led to skills and resumes.
Teachers, we realized, develop many professional skills beyond classroom teaching. Heck, we virtual teachers learned new ways of delivering instruction as soon as we stepped in the door and logged onto our computers. When I opened my LinkedIn account and started to check off skills, I was pleasantly surprised. As we sat around the table and listed each other’s strengths, we started feeling more confident and even a little calmer.
Time management. Prioritizing. Meeting deadlines. Learning new software and doing it quickly. Organization. Keeping records. Analyzing. Reading. Writing. Making coffee. Okay, I slipped that one in just for fun.
The point, if our lunch table group had a point, was that we are skilled professionals. We’re not “just” teachers. We teach and we do much more. If public education goes south in a hand basket, each one of us will find a way to make a living, pay the bills, and feed the family.
And if public education crashes and burns under stupid state programs, er, ineffective policies, the children of today and tomorrow will suffer. And that, my friends, is the real loss.
We’ve lost a handful of teachers since this post first aired. Some went into private sector jobs; others retired. Some left the virtual school world and moved back into traditional brick and mortar settings. This post may have foreshadowed those losses. At this point, we’re having a hard time hiring a paraprofessional (teacher aide) because the job is a lot of work and the pay is low. As long as educators and support personnel watch the field go downhill, fast, foreshadowing on this note might not be surprising.