Dear President-Elect Obama,
Congratulations on your win! I, like many others are excited about the changes we hope to see. But we want more. No matter how strong your resolution to change may be, you are a politician, and we, your people need a voice.
I am a middle school language arts and social studies teacher in Temecula, California. I attended the University of Southern California where I earned a BFA in Performing arts in drama, and while I knew when I graduated that I was not destined to perform, I did not know what I could or should do.
I spent the next ten years in various sales and management jobs, all the while friends and family saying, “You should be a teacher.” I discounted that out of hand because my mother was a teacher, and I wanted to be different. Silly me, after being laid off in an industry down-turn in the early 1990’s, I was forced to move home and reconsider my options. After multiple tests and questionnaires, I was left with a page-long list of careers, which I dutifully researched and crossed-off until the only thing that was left was teaching.
I went to graduate school at the University of San Diego, and then pursued my new career. About three years into the profession, I had an epiphany. I realized that for me, teaching was not just a career; teaching is not what I do, it is who I am. It matters not one bit if I ever make a living from teaching, because I am a teacher in everything I do.
Without going into a protracted story, I ended up realizing, due in part to an EETT grant, and a great teacher, that technology was not going to be another new toy, but was going to be an indispensable and mandatory skill for my students. I enrolled in a masters program, and turned into an ed-tech crusader. After the program, I followed my last instructor into Second Life to help him do research for a grant he received from the university. That one twist of fate has turned me into learning machine.
All teachers proclaim themselves to be “life-long learners” but this is not necessarily so. We learn in district-led in-servicing, and if we are lucky to have the funding, occasional conferences, but few seek out new learning opportunities for the sake of learning alone. That is a tragedy that needs to be remedied. Learning should be an integral part of every educators’ life, and every school district’s mission statement, and that will take a paradigm shift in our entire education system.
I have spent the last two years learning with a vengeance, and have, in the process, developed a remarkable Personal Learning Network (PLN) of ed-tech leaders on twitter (https://twitter.com/clarelane) and on other web 2.0 sites.
This leads me to your current nomination for Education Secretary, Arne Duncan. I know very little about the man or his past with regard to innovation, but I do know that he is also working within the construct of his own history with politics, and as such, cannot effect REAL change When did he last teach full time in a classroom? The fact that your team sat down with ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) leadership was a good start, and I am heavily involved with them in Second Life and in real life. However they too, are confined by their funding and support from corporations, many of which sell gizmos, gadgets, and programs, that may NOT be the best pedagogically, or may be hampered by their myopia and penchant for looking at what has been, not what can and should be.
Now I ask you, PLEASE talk and walk with teachers! And not just classroom teachers, but those who have stepped out and put all on the line for their belief in students and authentic learning.
My recommendation as the single best event you (or Arne and your team) should see is:
January 23 – 25, 2009
Science Leadership Academy
55 N. 22nd St.
This on-site/on-line conference includes the most engaged teachers and the best minds in ed-tech, as well as students. They, more than any other group or constituency, need a voice in their future; and Edu-Con is hosted by the most forward-thinking administrator I have seen or heard, Chris Lehmann.
The greatest gift you can give educators and students is a voice in their respective futures. Please consider speaking to them personally. Thank you.
Mrs. Lisa Linn M.S. Ed. https://secondlifelinguine.wordpress.com
Please note, the above was submitted on Obama’s website change.gov December 17, 2008. Please consider adding your story. Together, we can make a difference http://change.gov/page/s/yourstory