being a teacher

If Not Now

I started four different posts tonight, trying to find the right angle on the thoughts that have run through my mind the last few days, the last few weeks, perhaps even all summer.  But I realized as I wrote each post and promptly deleted that my mind was too tired to eloquently process what it is that is running through it.  So rather than wrap it in a story,  rather than wrap it up in whatever example I could conjure, I figured just to write it out instead.

We may think that our voices are nothing special.  That what we do only matters on a small scale.  That we can never be as great as (insert amazing thinker here).  That we have no business speaking, that we have no business speaking up.  That we have no business proclaiming anything as truly ours.  That our ideas have little worth and that surely someone else is much more deserving.  That surely somebody else must be better than us.
And we can believe it.  We can live it.  We can make ourselves feel like the biggest imposters, sure that someone will call us out.  But for what?  Because at the end of the day a change will only come if we all speak up.  If we see our worth.  If we see the worth of the truths that our students share with us and then amplify it for them.  When we say that we need a change, then we need to make that change.  When we see the injustice of our school systems.  When we see the disengagement.  When we see the wrong.  Then we must speak up.
So while I am not sure how I got to be someone others sometimes listened to, I do know this; my voice matters, but just as much as yours.  So as someone once said, “If not now, then when?  If not you, then who?”
When was the last time you spoke up for change?

9 thoughts on “If Not Now”

  1. Your encouragement of teachers to be honest beacons for our students is inspiring. Your words hit home for me. I did try to speak up this past year and was shot down, but not defeated. You are right. For whom do I do this work? My students deserve a strong, fearless teacher. Let’s make our voices heard.

  2. You should write that. By that, I mean our colleagues. That thought in your head. That experience. We don’t talk enough–we don’t write enough–and because we don’t, our thinking remains private and untested…unrealized and silent. Pernille is right, we learn from one another. Our profession is one of the few that allows for compassion…not just for kids, but for the beautiful evolving imperfections riddled throughout the learning and growth process. We have to help each other help the kids through that journey.

    1. Hi Pernille, this is the second time I leave you a comment….I find your writing and your experiences so so interesting….I dream some day I can do some of the things you tell! I´m an Argentinian teacher of English in Argentina ( Buenos Aires)…and i´m trying to make, copy, steal your ideas of a club book 🙂 and the thing is that as I´ve already told you, we only have 2 periods a week of English classes, but this doesn´t discourage me! We have read some books, short stories, some poems, etc, ( apart from the teaching points, just reading for pleasure) but we did it….the traditional way: one book or poem for the whole class….and this time I want something different. Last week, we went to the school library ( which only has Spanish titles) and they were allowed to choose any book they wanted. I gave them a week to read it and do some work on it…and I was very surprised ( they really exceeded my expectations!!) and so….I bought some English titles ( shor stories, some information books, etc ) using my money ( there´s very little money for english in public schools) but…..i don´t know what to do with them, i mean….should i make them work and read in groups ( one original and then make them copies) or….should i let them choose one book each and then share the same titles within the class and so they read individually ( some should be reading before others) ….or……make them read from pdf? .. i may have the chance to download some copies….and so they can read from their pcs…..
      The thing is that.,,they are almost 30 students in a class of 3rd year of secondary school (ages between 13 to 15)….having few knowledge of the enlgish language…these kids fight against domestic violence, poverty, family breakdowns, very little ecouragement for reading from their homes….and so to make them read and in English…is like …..sometimes very very difficult….but I really care for them …I want them to be readers…..I want them to dream….to imagine….to feel things can change….so I try hard…..and they try hard, too!
      I know this comment is very very long…and may be you find it uninteresting….but i would be very glad if you can give me some advices….it would be of great help!
      Thanks for reading and thanks for writing !!!!
      you are inspiring!

      1. Ana,
        What is the reading level of your students in English? I have an abundance of 4th-6th grade books I don’t use as a 2nd grade teacher. Perhaps you could use them? I would love to send them to you, but only if you think you can use them! Please let me know and we’ll see what we can do!

      2. Ohhh this reply is for Pye Cornejo….thanks in advance!!!! My students, in this course, (I teach in different 12 courses from 2nd year to 5th year of the secondary school) are beginners….starters…..and some of them are at elementary level. I know they would appreciate your books and I would do it too!!! Please let me know if any of your books can be suitable for my students….just to let you know when I choose a short story I choose it with a level 1 (400 headwords) quickstarter ( 250 headwords) and up to level 2 (elementary 600 headwords) thanks thanks thanks for answering me!!!! If you think you can do this…..I leave you my email address ….and if you can´t do it, don´t worry, I will understand !
        Thanks again!

  3. Pernille, you got to be someone others sometimes listened to because it’s not easy sharing your voice and few have the courage to do it. As @margaretsmn said above, “I did try to speak up this past year and was shot down.” She goes on to explain the reason behind why more don’t share their voice and that is because it requires one to be fearless and that can be scary and overwhelming. To overcome that, perhaps support from the brave like you who stood before them is what is needed.

    I know personally, when I first started sharing my voice I felt like a pariah in my own district. It was Angela Maiers who back then in 2008 gave me words of encouragement and the extra strength to keep on. It was Will Richardson who said to me that talking about what should be will not get me as far as sharing those ideas in writing that is published for the world. That is what we can do for others who want to share their voice but are unsure and need the encouragement and support of others who’ve been there.

    I elaborate in a response I wrote today at

  4. Thank you for sharing your voice. I have been reading your blog for nearly a year and am embarrassed that I haven’t thanked you before. I find your thoughts timely, encouraging, and reflective. You have influenced me and at least one other colleague in so many good ways. You can’t know all the ripples your voice creates.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s