Gone are the days when we can trust the media to tell our education stories. We need to tell our stories ourselves. If we aren’t telling our stories, how will any taxpayer know what’s happening in our public school classrooms?

I’m seeing fellow educators in several states marching for higher per pupil spending, salary increases, better benefits, and improved working conditions, for example. And today there are primary elections happening in my state, North Carolina. All of that’s got me wondering:

What does the general public really even know about our learning spaces?

They know what the media tells them.

Our learning spaces should be more transparent.

How can we expect anyone to know what’s happening if WE are not telling them?

How the Perception of Public Education Progresses 

Last Saturday, I was sitting in a McDonald’s on a slightly overcast, spring morning in North Carolina. Even more than a culturally diverse crowd who enjoys the same coffee, orange juice, sausage mcmuffin, and hashbrowns that I do, are their stories.

Everyone has a story to tell.

1–Prior knowledge and life experiences influence present views of public education.

When I ask anyone about their educational experiences, I get incredibly mixed responses. Some loved attending school, and I can see their eyes light up as fond memories with teachers, classmates, and learning are recalled and shared with joy. Others have miserable memories attached to school. Still, most are apathetic. They really don’t care about education, and they saw schooling as something they had to do–just to get thru–to be an adult and live the real parts of life.

When making present decisions and planning for the future, we tend to lean on our own past experiences, including those perceptions we hold birthed in our own learning journeys, so indelible in our long-term memories.

Oh, how the times are changing… and have changed. The world has changed. People, resources, and the manners in which we learn have changed. Great things are happening in our spaces every day.

But how will anyone know?

2–Educators Must Globally Share Their Stories–Every. Single. Day.

  • I’m not talking about one post every now and then; the weekly newsletter; Remind texts or emails that go out to your classroom parents; or even your monthly, eight hundred word blog. I’m talking about every single educator posting from their spaces every single day. Could you imagine how awesome that would be? In this context, global sharing means telling your story beyond your classroom, school, district, state, or country. It means telling your story to the world.
  • It’s about getting the word out–It’s not about the platform. In fact, it would be better if educators used different platforms to spread their stories in order to reach diverse social media users.
  • Share it all: Make the positives so loud that the negatives are almost impossible to hear. Tell that story, but also professionally and tactfully share your educator needs as well. How will anyone know our needs if we don’t share and ask for help?
  • How to get started: Twitter, Instagram, and Flipgrid can be efficient platforms for simple, global sharing every day. Can you think of others? Let’s connect! Start your account(s) today.

3–When Educators Don’t Tell Their Story, Others Will

Let’s pretend that step two never happened. Let’s pretend that well-intending educators never shared nor told what was happening in their spaces.

Therefore, taxpayers jump directly from step one (perceptions formed by their own prior school experience) to step three (perceptions formed by whatever the media or anyone else tells them about today’s public schools).

We believe almost anything we see and hear on television, radio, and the internet, right? I mean, why wouldn’t you? From where else would the information come? Usually, the only one telling the story is the only one who’s believed, because that’s the way it is.

In order to earn ratings and dazzle their audiences, those anythings are almost always controversial and negative. The temptation to stereotype lingers, as anyone absorbing anything may eventually think: “Hmm… This must be how it is in all public education settings. Why would I ever want to increase support for public schools and educators? Do they really deserve it? Do the kids really need it?”

To change the narrative, we have to first begin by sharing and telling OUR Story.

Every day. Let’s break the internet with so many stories from our spaces, that we simply can NOT be ignored. Let’s not continue as another cute weekend news segment or a feel-good column in the latter pages of a newspaper. Instead,

Let’s celebrate learning so much that education becomes a part of the daily narrative; a part of our everyday lives. Let’s make education an issue worth discussing in political debates and coffee shops.

4–I’m Still Wondering…  

  • Why isn’t there a TV channel or radio station devoted solely to local and state education? This would be one more way for educators to share directly with the public.
  • Of those educators participating in marches and rallies, how many have globally shared and told their stories every day, if at all?
  • Even IF educators were sharing and telling their stories daily, would there be less need to protest?
  • If the general public knew of specific needs, and could clearly see the great things happening, would education revert back to a revered, sacred profession and not one seen simply as a transaction?
  • If we have the technology to globally share-and-tell, and to connect directly with our communities, then why are we still so disconnectED between learning spaces and public opinion?

We need to get the word out. Every day.

We need to change the way the world is perceiving public education.

5–Especially Noteworthy

  • Rooted in #Hashtag180’s mission for every educator to archive, share, and tell, this post will also be featured at #Hashtag180 Central.
  • Originally based on a 180-day calendar, the #Hashtag180 Challenge was launched as an invitation for educators to post from their learning spaces once a day (180).