Why the Teacher Voice is Important to Policy Makers
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Why the Teacher Voice is Important to Policy Makers

My name is Kathy Assini. I work at Delsea Regional Middle School. I am an 8th grade teacher. I’ve been teaching ancient history for the past 11 years, but when I return in September, I will be creating a new course in 21st century skills and learning. If you came into my classroom, you wouldn’t know where the front of the room is. There’s a teacher desk in the corner that I have my things at, but the students face the center of the room, and there’s a, you know, a green board up front and a smart board at that side, and there’s word walls and stuff like that. So it’s their classroom. I’ve been in eighth grade for 13 years now. They get one shot at it, so it has to be their classroom, and they have to believe it’s their classroom so that they take that community responsibility. They have to do the work, so I try to truly just be a guide, and, you know, stir up the pot sometimes, so that they figure out the questions, but yes, inquiry-based, project-based as much as possible. I think it’s important for active teacher’s, classroom teachers to be involved in shaping policy because we need to see the faces that these policies are affecting. I know myself being out on a six-month sabbatical sometimes ideas sound great. It’s like on Saturday night, we have this great idea for a lesson plan, and then all of a sudden you go, “That’s not going to work for Kyle. Joey already can do that.” And that’s the same thing I think is important at the policy level. I don’t think anybody sets out to make a bad policy that’s going to harm teachers or harm kids, but the ripple effect is often what’s not seen, and that’s where the teacher comes in and says, “You know if that goes through, this teacher my building is going to have a problem with that. My administrator is never going to support that, or Gianna, it’s going to hurt Gianna.” You know, and we as teachers think about all those angles. Once you get to policy, especially if it was a short-term teaching position that puts you into policy, it’s easy to forget about how it’s going to look, you know, in the classroom. you

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