It has been wonderful in the last few days to stumble across some truly heartwarming and inspirational stories about teachers and the difference they make. Author Dave Eggers writes here about the teacher who “ripped off the ceiling and showed [him] the sky.” In this piece, The myth of the extraordinary teacher, Ellie Herman describes the stark reality of the classroom and the unfairness of expecting teachers to be and do extraordinary things “in an environment which precludes excellence”. Having worked in the New Zealand equivalent of this school, her words truly resonate.
Here, an extremely articulate Matt Damon responds to a reporter’s questions about teachers and the intrinsic motivation that drives them, saying it’s “because they love to teach […] why else would they accept “a shitty salary and really long hours?” Are any of these themes sounding familiar to you?
It’s not news to any of us – we see the conditions within which teachers work, and really do understand the passion that drives good teachers. And it’s great to see the tweets, and read the articles promoting the real value that teachers bring to the lives of our young people, and therefore, to our future economic and social well-being. But who is telling the stories of the difference that librarians make? Who is fighting for their pay and working conditions? Who is sharing their work and the difference they make in the life of a child, in an articulate and impassioned way?
As a sector, I believe we need to engage with social media, and use its power to tell our stories. We are a race of story-tellers, it’s in our genes to learn and grow through the telling of tales – and who better to engage in that arena than a bunch of experienced storytellers? So who’s up for it? Do you have a story? An ex-student who has told you how much you changed their lives? A teacher who has expounded on the value you have added? Don’t be shy – tell the world, blog about it, tweet it onwards, spread the word. Or maybe you know someone who edits a national school library magazine – you could tell her, and see what she can do with your story…