January 18, 2021
By Aleta Margolis, Founder and President, Center for Inspired Teaching
Hooray for Monday is a weekly blog filled with questions, ideas, reflections, and actions we can all take to remodel the school experience for students.
Each year as we mark the anniversary of his birth, we remember and honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. for his fight for racial justice and commitment to creating social change through peaceful protest. This year, Dr. King’s mission and his powerful, nonviolent approach to creating change feel especially relevant and vital.
Today I am also remembering and honoring my father, as I observe his Yahrzeit, the anniversary of his death. Larry Margolis, who was a federal judge, exemplified integrity, and humility. While he had a deep respect for the law and was resolute in following it (in my lifetime, I never saw him cross the street when the “Don’t Walk” sign was lit), he also recognized that human beings, including those who create the law, are fallible; and he taught me to spot injustice and strive to create change where it’s needed.
In two days the United States will have a new President. It is a time of significant change for our country. For teachers, this is the ultimate teachable moment, an opportunity to observe democracy at work, and to help students understand the roles they can play within that democracy.
As educators, one could argue that our whole job is about teaching changemakers; nurturing in our students what Ashoka: Innovators for the Public describes as “the confidence and support to contribute to the common good.”
This is particularly challenging work because, as teachers in last week’s Inspired Teaching Institute discussed, our brains are wired to seek consistency and avoid change. It takes planning, motivation, and practice to overcome that default.
Legacies like that of Dr. King and my father remind me that progress is never achieved through stasis. As educators, we have the opportunity not only to teach our students how to navigate change but also to model it in our own actions.
To the teachers who joined us for last week’s Institute, the teachers who are our co-conspirators through Hooray For Monday, and all teachers who are working toward positive change: Thank you. Your work is a beacon for your students and for all of us seeking hope for the future.