My name is Beth Shaum and I was a middle
school language arts teacher for seven years at a Catholic school in
Grosse Pointe, Michigan. I loved my job, but a lengthy commute coupled with the numerous demands of being a teacher forced me to step back and reevaluate my future. So with a heavy heart, at the end of the 2012-2013 school year, I packed up my classroom and cast myself adrift into a sea of uncertainty. I took a leap and prayed for a net. It came in the form of a wonderful job working for the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) as their social media coordinator. I love this job. It's enjoyable and low-stress and gives me time to just BE. But I missed teaching every day. I missed the kids. I missed my colleagues. I missed seeing faces light up with learning. Thankfully, when the 2014-2015 school year came calling, I found a part time job teaching 8th grade at my alma mater. Being back in the classroom as well as continuing to work for NCTE has been a true blessing.
About this blog:
It is easy to get discouraged at the way teachers are portrayed in the media. This blog is meant to be a place that celebrates the great things teachers are doing in the classroom so that we can start a new trend: teacher as expert professional, which is not how they are currently portrayed. I want teachers to feel empowered by their work, not hopeless. Let's celebrate teachers, not cast aspersions on them.
Why the title "Use Your Outside Voice"?
This is a nudge to when teachers tell their students "use your inside voice" whenever they're in the classroom and getting too noisy. I think the nature of teachers is to always use their inside voice (or no voice at all), even outside the classroom, even when a noisy outside voice is necessary. When they see policies being handed down at the district, state, or even national level that they know are not within the best interest of their students and their classroom, they often complain to their innermost circle and confidants, but out of fear for their jobs, rarely speak up in a more public setting.
The title "use your outside voice" is also a reminder to those responsible for making educational policy decisions that teachers deserve to be heard and should be part of the conversation, not removed from it. Far too often you see pundits interviewing educational "experts" on TV who haven't been in a classroom in many years, if at all. They're asked about the state of education today and asked to speak for teachers, but rarely do you ever see teachers getting to speak for themselves. The creation of this blog is an attempt to try to change that.