2015 Teacher of the Year: How to fight the ‘simplistic slogans and manipulated data’ of critics

Reblogged from the Answer Sheet

Shanna Peeples is a high school English teacher in Amarillo, Texas,  who was named the 2015 National Teacher of the Year earlier this year by the Council of Chief State School Officers. Peeples teaches AP English at Palo Duro High School and serves as the English department chair as well as an instructional coach for other teachers. She is also a member of the National Education Association, the  largest teachers union (and largest labor union of any kind) in the United States, and she recently spoke to members at the organization’s  convention in Orlando, Florida.

In the first part of her speech, Peeples spoke about becoming an NEA member and about why she believes the union is important in empowering teachers. She also addressed what many teachers see as an ongoing war against them by school reformers who evaluate educators unfairly, give them insufficient resources to do their jobs and blame them for a lack of achievement by students who come to school unprepared to learn. Peeples offered teachers a way to counter critics. Here’s the part of her speech, as prepared for delivery, that addresses this issue:

To be in your company is an honor—and I mean that sincerely. Meeting you and knowing you has been the best part of this process because you are absolutely obsessed about teaching and relentless in your support of public education. When I think of you, I see warriors of kindness, warriors of hope, and warriors whose spines are absolute steel in their resolve to fight for what matters. You are the best kind of warriors because your mission is to save and serve the most vulnerable members of our society: children. You are their voice and their champions.

So my proposition to you, my fellow warriors, is that we do our best battle with stories. Our critics love clichés, and simplistic slogans and manipulated data. This is how they attack, and the good news is the utter banality of those attacks. Stories are different. There is no defense against a good story. Think about it…

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