Huntington County Community School Corporation (HCCSC) is fortunate to be represented by a talented teacher and speaker who is Indiana’s 2012 Teacher of the Year. Her motivational beginning of the year speech may be remembered by teachers here as the school year progresses. When burdens of responsibility weigh heavily, some may find inspiration in the video clip The Death Crawl from the movie “Facing the Giants” she tied into her message.
In the clip, Coach Taylor blindfolds a player to push him to crawl farther than he believes he can down the field while carrying another player on his back. The analogy that we must ignore, or blind, ourselves to our own self-imposed limitations in order to succeed is a good lesson. Still, at this time, I’m not sure a blindfold analogy is appropriate for educators in Indiana, especially in HCCSC, because… The blindfold analogy only works if we can trust our leadership.
Based on last year’s demoralized educators across the state and the results of a local climate survey, there is little trust in current leadership at the state or local level. We know we do not have a Coach Taylor pushing and inspiring us down the field. We have superintendents at the state and local level pushing us off a cliff. They want us to remain blinded as they destroy our professional union and deskill educators.
This fact was easily recognized here in the presentation that preceded our Teacher of the Year’s speech. As administration touted the wonders of our new digital 1:1 curriculum, some of the applications lurking in the background were Pearson, McGraw Hill, and Khan Academy. Put those names along side the mention of Bill Gates by the Teacher of the Year, and you have a list of corporations and foundations at the forefront of sponsoring State Superintendent Tony Bennett’s attempt to privatize public schools and demonize professional teachers.
As good as lesson as any for educators today that could be gleaned from the same video clip would have been the reminder that great leaders, like Coach Taylor, motivate and make everyone better. Poor leaders make everyone demoralized. Indiana educators, ask yourself these two questions:
Have you been motivated or demoralized by current leadership?
Do you expect public education to survive if educators continue to be blindfolded by poor leadership?
Indiana’s state teacher of the year for 2012 reminds us she has been given an extraordinary opportunity to send a message to teachers around the state. All of those concerned with the survival of a public education must realize we all have the extraordinary opportunity to have our voices heard. We must speak out at school board meetings, in newspapers, social media networks, and to our neighbors. If we do not, the term death crawl will take on an all too literal meaning.