There is more than one constituency we educate. There are many facets, but primarily two fronts in education we must address.
Do not make the mistake of thinking the only people we educate are our students. We spend our time educating the students and then everyone else. Education is a two front war. No wonder it is not for the faint-of-heart.
Front One in Education
We educate students. Of course, we teach students by grade level, subject, interest, and sometimes by sheer will. It is probably the easiest part of being an educator.
We educate parents. To educate parents is a little trickier as it involves passive language, well-turned phrases, questioning to affirm-yet allowing them to acknowledge what they see as areas of improvement in their student. At the end of a good parent conference most teachers feel like they could successfully run for Congress.
We educate the community. This is a never-ending job. In the line at the supermarket about the upcoming election, at holiday functions where a random family member declares he should start teaching next year, on Facebook – God help us all on Facebook.
Front Two in Education
Then there is the second front. The less overt front.
We close ranks and discuss things within our closest educational circles. These discussions are amongst colleagues who also fight the first front, but the second front happens within our own camps. We evaluate our implicit/explicit leaders in hushed whispers. We stop and start movements in their tracks before the first bell sounds. We participate in or shut down gossip which can end an educational career. We sabotage each other or we send in reinforcements with single looks and inaudible body language. We can squander our influence or we can wield it powerfully. “A lot of things are within teachers’ sphere of influence, but a siege mentality makes it difficult for them to embrace those things.”
In a profession with a disproportionate number of women in entry-level positions, maybe the second front needs to support intentionally. Maybe that home front could positively contribute to the emotional health of those out there fighting the public about educational issues. Maybe the home front does not need the amount of friendly fire we experience in education. Is that second front holding women back from rising through the educational ranks?
Two front wars are often lost. We cannot afford to lose in education.
Let us shore up our ranks and as a united force concentrate on the most important front – educating those outside education.