A Sense of Something
I have been pondering my first three weeks as chair, colleague, and faculty member in the teacher education department here at UNK. My time has been fantastic. I feel welcome. I feel like I am starting to figure this out. I feel like I am starting to make a difference. However, there are a few things that leave me with trepidation. As I walk through the halls, have conversations, and learn more and more about who we are and what we do, I feel that there is something missing. We need a sense of something. We need something to bring us together. We need to build a sense of community.
I know this is sophomoric, but an online dictionary defines community as, “A group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common.” We are teacher educators. This is what we have in common. At the same time, we must all work toward the common good.
I want to address the three areas of what we do.
A Community of Scholars
As teacher education scholars, we spend a lot of time diving into the details. We reframe. We create. We discover. We redo. It is our nature. However, when that motivation causes us to attack our colleagues, it becomes toxic. Our innate need to understand the details, to research, and know more can become a hindrance at times. However, this is who we are. We all care about education, knowing about education, and improving education. But, there is more.
There was recently a long discussion about graduate faculty status. Reading through the discussion left me frustrated. To me, there is a difference between the letter of the law and the spirit of the law. When we go by the letter of the law, we don’t consider everything. Looking at things in a binary leaves us in a dangerous place. In cases like this we should be supporting each other. We should be looking for reasons to advance our colleagues. When we do, we advance ourselves. The better each one of us does, the better we all do. We need to grow. We need to be a community of scholars. And in this, we must work together. We must share skills. We must share time. Most importantly, we must help each other move forward.
A Community of Teachers
So, since I have arrived, the one thing I have noticed is the high quality and enthusiasm for teaching. I walk by classrooms and energetic teachers and motivated students. I think I know why. It is who we are. Teaching is fun. It is our life blood. And, we want other people to do well. But, again, there is a second side to this. As a faculty member, part of our teaching responsibility is advising. And we must be great advisors. We must have conversations. We need to motivate. We need to respond to students when they have questions. Every time. We need to take care of OUR students. When are students are confident, informed, and motivated, they can go our and do great things.
A Community of Service
The final part of our triad is service. Within our department, we need things to be done. And, we need to do the things we are supposed to do. When we have jobs to do, we need to do them. We need to not only be active in our department, college, and university, but in the community. Education is in a rare position of being in every part of a student’s life. There is the education, but there is also a sense of belonging. We feed them. We nurture them. Many times we are stand in parents. Because of this, we need to be involved in the community. I know many of you are and I praise your work. But, this is something we all need to do. Including me. We need to give back to the community. An education based on the community is a better education.
These first three weeks have been wonderful. I am meeting people. I am making new friends. I have found colleagues with passions that energize me. But we, together, need to be well-rounded in what we do. We need to support each other. We need to take care of our students. We need to do our jobs to the best of our ability.
If you would like to chat about this, shoot me a message.