Vocal minority vs. Silent majority…

I was once told by an Athletic Director that those who criticize your work are in the vocal minority while those who support you are in the silent majority. I didn’t really want to admit that this was true and it took me some time to come to terms with this, but it really hits this subject on the head. My current principal and I have had this conversation recently as well when dealing with what it takes to get people to follow directions. If you take the time to think about it, I believe you’ll see that it makes sense and is applicable to what we do in our classrooms every single day.

There’s been a ton of talk lately concerning what needs to be done to reform the educational system in our country – and as I’ve said before, it’s warranted in many situations. But in all of this talk we are losing focus on something that is very important: there are a ton of teachers who day in and day out are working their butts off to get the students they are working with to the next level – whatever level that may be.

I came across this quote this morning through Alexander Russo’s twitter feed: This is not a war on teachers en masse. It is recognition of what every parent knows: Some teachers are exceptional, but a small number are dreadful. – Eric Hanushek

The problem I see with this statement is that not all parents know that some teachers are exceptional. The bigger problem, in my opinion,  is that all teachers are being attacked when any teachers are attacked. We all should take offense at the fact that people think of our profession negatively and we need to change this attitude. One way that we can achieve this is to do something about the small percentage of teachers who are bringing us down in the eyes of the public.

Meaningful dialogue on how to evaluate teachers and determining what great teaching looks like must occur. We must be leaders in this sector and make our voices heard – and our voices must become the positive vocal majority if we want to effect positive change in our industry.

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4 thoughts on “Vocal minority vs. Silent majority…

  1. Hi Jeremy…weighing in as a parent, I would like to express my deepest appreciation for teachers. As you stated, not all parents recognize that there are exceptional teachers, and I agree with this statement. I feel, as a parent, that teachers are, in essence, my partners in raising my children. Their job, as is mine, is to educate, guide, and counsel these children, and ultimately give them the experience and knowledge to take with them throughout their lives. Many people are far too eager to hoist all the responsibilty onto teachers, when in fact, a teacher is part of a much larger system of learning.
    I agree that many changes need to be implemented in order for our educational system to function successfully. More thorough teacher evaluations are required, because those “dreadful” teachers do exist, as do those “dreadful” parents. These teachers do need to be brought to light and dealt with. But also an understanding that it is not always the teachers, but the entire system itself that sometimes fails our children, including outdated curriculum, school administrations, parents, and a society too quick to pass the buck. Unfortunately, the teachers are on the front line in this battle, and therefore receive the majority of blame. So speaking from the “silent majority”, I hope you do know that there are parents out there that do recognize, respect, appreciate, and applaud the teachers that go above and beyond for their students every day.

  2. Dana…
    Thanks for your comment and your point of view. I can’t say as there’s anything that I disagree with in it. I firmly believe that if change is going to come, we all must come to terms with the fact that we all must play a role – be that teachers, school administrators and board members, community members, parents and – perhaps most importantly, the students themselves. I think all too often our students take for granted the tremendous opportunity they are given in our country and allow those in power to also take advantage of this. I have seen wonderful things happen when a group of committed students pools their resources and works to effect change – probably moreso than any other group in this field (and shouldn’t it be this way, if you really think about it?)

  3. And just to add to this… I have taught for 13 and a half years now and have experienced roughly 20 open houses (we teach on a semester schedule, so we typically have two, weather permitting). Rarely, and I do mean rarely, do the parents of the students we need to see actually come to open house. Instead, we see the parents who play an active role in the education of their child(ren). It shouldn’t take an experienced researcher to figure out the corrolation that exists between parents who are active in the education of their child(ren) and their achievement.
    Waiting for Superman painted the broad stroke that all parents are working three jobs and doing whatever is necessary in order to ensure success for their child. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, and, in actuality, just as Davis Guggenheim stereotyped all public school teachers as bad, he also stereotyped all parents as being involved, and neither is in fact a reality.
    So yes, parents definitely need to be held accountable as well.

  4. It’s parents like Dana that make me hopeful for the future of our education system. And also remind me, as a teacher, that not every parent is out to get me or fighting against me.

    I’m fortunate enough to live and teach in a community where there is tremendous support for teachers. I never take this for granted. But even in the best of communities you still have parents (and more often than not, childless community members) that just don’t support the education of that community. It seems people quickly forget where we would all be without an education, even at the most basic level.

    Thank you for being part of the silent majority, Dana!

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