So one of the pieces of TFA pre-school work that I find really exciting is the “vision” we’re expected to lay out for the year. This is your classroom manifesto, your big call-to-arms for what you want your students to achieve, accomplish, think, or feel about learning. This is your inaugural address, except the only people who will likely ever see it are you and your Manager of Teacher Leadership Development. I am probably a little behind in that I’m only just creating this now, but I’m off to a training tomorrow and wanted to be able to share this with folks, so here’s my first draft. Over the top, starry-eyed, and wordy, but that’s par for the course:
We will understand language as a toolkit that provides pathways to freedom and power. “Those who have the command of language have more might than those with the command of armies,” writes Ernest Morrell, a professor at the University of California at Los Angeles. We will also understand that being a powerful communicator means never being satisfied with your current skills. It means always pushing forward.
We will examine literacy as freedom and as power. Throughout history, the easiest way to physically or psychologically enslave groups of people against their will has been to prevent them from becoming literate. We are going to become great readers to ensure that we always control our own destiny and have the right to work hard and become powerful people in our society.
We will understand that growing as communicators will help us become better versions of ourselves and allow us to shape a better version of the world around us. Strong communication skills are fundamental to success in business, law, science, engineering, health care, policy, or myriad other disciplines where our ideas matter.
We will accept that language is complex, slippery, and at times difficult, and that being an effective communicator requires taking risks, asking questions, and thinking critically. It also requires commitment and determination.
By working hard, we will build our communications kit with the tools to persuade others, the tools to express ourselves, and the tools educate ourselves throughout life.
To do this, we will read widely in a variety of genres. We will practice writing and editing in a variety of genres. We will study ideas in a variety of media and create media that expresses our ideas. We will investigate literacy within the context of the Internet and new media, and we will practice using our tools in digital contexts. Through these channels, we will project our command of language and ensure that we always have the right tools for the job.