“Hopefully, most teachers enter the profession because they care about students and want to support their academic, but also social and emotional, development as people who can make a difference in the world. That is, they want to be allies for students at a crucial point in their lives. But what does this lofty goal look like in reality? This badge is designed to help you own your identity as teacher who views students as far more than consumers of content, candidates for differentiation, or data points for academic achievement. As you move down this pathway, you will learn what it means to be a teacher ally to students in general as well as to students who belong to groups that historically have been marginalized in our culture, You will read an educational memoir by a teacher who is fiercely committed to being a teacher ally, and you will also analyze the missions, stances, and approaches that organizations outside of schools use to reach and engage youth. As you research concrete methods and techniques for being a teacher ally, you will compose publicly as a way of sharing your learning. You will also respond to the thinking of your classmates, share your own writing in community with others in this class, and revise your work based on their feedback. Finally, you will create a metacognitive reflection to reflect on your developing identity as a teacher ally and post it to your blog. Your completion of these activities will scaffold your learning as you work toward the final project for this badge–a Teach-In, which is an engaging, participatory, and dynamic technique that will help us practice being teacher allies in actionable ways.”
This is the description for our badge, Teacher as Ally. To me, being an ally to our students is incredibly important. I especially relate with the quote, “You will learn what it means to be a teacher ally to students in general as well as to students who belong to groups that historically have been marginalized in our culture.”
When I first started to think seriously about being a teacher, I found myself defending those who are historically marginalized. I grew up in a small town in California, and it has a large population of Hispanic students – many who are the only natural citizens in their family, and many who are illegal immigrants. But they always had a similar story – they wanted a better life, they wanted to beat the statistics, they wanted to better their families, support their parents. I wanted to defend them because most of them were my friends and I knew them as friends and not as an “illegal immigrant” or “Spanish speaker.” I could see the value in them without even being a teacher. But I could also see the value in teaching them and helping them help themselves to learn and grow, just like I wanted to as a student in high school.
Teachers can have profound impact on their students, and it doesn’t have to be something huge or uber meaningful in the student’s life. It can be giving a simple smile, granting an extension on a paper, or actually asking them how they are doing – it means a lot. I know it did for me, and I know it did for my fellow classmates.
I also like this quote: “This badge is designed to help you own your identity as teacher who views students as far more than consumers of content, candidates for differentiation, or data points for academic achievement.” That’s it. I want to value my students as actual people who function in our society. I want to value my students as leaders. I want to value my students as my peers, because they will be one day. They are people, and frankly, I didn’t always feel like I was considered an equal at school. But, I did feel like an equal with some of my teachers. Yes, I wasn’t as old, or as educated, or as whatever – but my teachers valued my opinions, celebrated my growth, supported my shortcomings, and stuck it out with me, especially in the moments of my life where I needed a friend –> they were there.
I hope to always be an ally to others, inside and outside the classroom.