Changing education from the inside

November 27, 2013

Today’s post was written by Anna Greenstone, a 2013 Inspired Teaching Fellow.

In the ongoing movement for educational change, my role has shifted and grown over several years. After college, working as a case manager with recently resettled refugee families, I found myself interacting with schools as an advocate for families. I vividly remember a series of meetings for a young Burundian girl who was lagging developmentally behind her eight-year old peers. The district wanted to send her to a private school for children with special needs. Her parents, totally unfamiliar with US law and bureaucracy, were noticeably intimidated at these meetings, where fifteen or so professionals gathered in the “interest” of their daughter. The school district came with their facts and figures from cognitive testing, their in-house attorney to defend district choices, and classroom teachers with anecdotes of the child’s disobedience. All this expertise, time, and money, and yet it became clear over the course of these meetings that the family felt lost and totally abandoned by this school. While I worked with the family so their voice would be heard, I felt unable to change what that child experienced in the classroom. And I didn’t know how to facilitate a more participatory dialogue.

My role was that of an outsider, but since then, my role in the world of education has grown. From after-school tutoring in an under-served community, to coaching 9th grade students in creative writing, and now beginning my journey as a teacher, I am working to improve schools from the inside. I know the systemic barriers facing children and teachers in schools are daunting and that working from the inside can be disheartening, but I find strength in the willingness of others to participate in changing the system. My role in this process is as a teacher, staunchly committed to participating in education reform along with my fellow teachers.

The deepest improvements to education can come from teachers, working together through genuine dialogue and inquiry about practice. I’m excited to learn from fellow teachers instead of running to manufactured guides and booklets for the answers. I look forward to collectively creating environments where children are joyful and learning flourishes. I’m ready to participate – with my students in the classroom and in the movement to change the perception of teachers and our role in society. My participation in this movement grows out of the choices I make every day while teaching children. Developing my skills as an Inspired Teacher allows me to contribute to meaningful change in the field of education.

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One response to “Changing education from the inside”

  1. Excellent! May this be out reminder to not abandon our students’ families, not even from the inside.

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