When I first decided to run for Congress, I remember who I went to for input. Surprisingly, it was not my friends and family (besides my wife!); instead, it was the educators that I have worked with over the last ten years. Not just those I have worked with in schools, but those in my personal learning network.
Their overwhelming reaction to this new journey was positive, encouraging, and supportive. They were real with me about the difficulties and realities of this endeavor, but they were also excited. They know the need to create change at a higher level, yet also felt confident in my ability and drive to accomplish our shared goals. They encouraged me not just to pursue this path, but to do everything in my power to make it happen.
That is what we do as teachers. We encourage. We motivate. We push. We influence. We nurture. We believe. We kindle the fire that fuels passion in the face of adversity.
Yes, we strive every day to shape the future of this world. We do everything in our power to ensure that our students are on the right path, their own unique path, and increase their chances of success in however they define success.
Now imagine if we started to do this on a different level, a higher level. Imagine what our world would look like if our support extended beyond the traditional walls of our classrooms and schools. Imagine the impact that we could have for the greater good of our cities, states, and nation.
I have always told my students and teachers that if something is wrong, we fix it. Why should we wait to create change if we know that change is needed now?
If a lesson isn't working, we adjust. If a school policy is not working, we question. If the educational system in our city, state, or nation is not benefiting our children, we stand up and speak out.
Our power and drive to create change are limitless. Sometimes that requires us to step outside of our comfort zones. Sometimes that requires broadening our knowledge and skill sets. Sometimes that requires us to do things that are not within the traditional “scope” of our roles.
We should expand our commitment to public service by running for public office. So many educators have recently decided to run for local, state, and federal office because they see the need to adapt. They are called to serve in a way that is outside of the school, but still in line with what we do as teachers.
And that's the thing. We can do this. We can run for public office. We can win. We can positively influence the direction of our communities. We can help shape our world to reflect what we know it needs - innovators and passion for evolution. We can create real change.
It is up to us, as a community and family of educators, to support each other in our quest to create change. It may be new or different to us, but that does not mean we should shy away. Now, more than ever, it is up to us to stand up and do what is best for our future.