This year has been a constant struggle— a struggle between the way that I am expected to teach and my values. I have chosen to actively work against the grain in an effort to not be a contributor to a system that perpetuates inequity. I often fail, but it is the difficult work that I have chosen. People who know me, know that I am someone who leads with my values. Sometimes my passion shows up in ways that I don’t often suspect. It shows up in anger and an unwillingness to conform to policies that I do not believe to be what’s best for the students I teach. At times, my willingness to speak the truth and fight for kids has gotten me into trouble— trouble that I willingly accept if it means not being complicit in systems that are flawed. I have come to realize that even when I am right, I can still be wrong.
In the words of Paulo Friere: “Teaching is a political act.” In the early days of my teaching career, I knew in my mind what he meant by these words, but I had not yet felt it in my heart. These words have become an embodiment of who I am as an educator. The way that we educate children is either a way of pushing students towards liberation or an act of being complicit in the systems that exist. As I have often said, if we want our students to be the people who think critically about systems and work to change them, then we must model this behavior.
The moniker, the Quiet Disruptor, lends itself to the belief that I disrupt willingly and indiscriminately. This could not be further from the truth. I disrupt not because I want to or because it’s something that I love doing, but because I feel that it is a moral imperative to fight for the things that I know to be right. I fight for the future of my students and the belief in the ideal that we should provide an outstanding education for all students not just some. The work of disrupting ineffective systems is thankless and exhausting work that can feel like a losing battle. When you have lost too many battles, it can feel as though the work doesn’t matter— that all the energy that you have put in has been wasted. I continue to remind myself that even when I feel defeated, I need to keep my head up and move forward because I know it is what my students deserve from me.
To all of the people who dare to dream of a better future for the education of our children, who continue to fight even if they know they might lose, who do what they know to right: keep the fire burning within.