With the news of the passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, I woke up this morning reflecting what she was to our country and how she used her platform and position to advocate for those who could not advocate for themselves. Right now, more than ever, educators and students need all of the advocates and fighters they can get. Our profession is under attack and taking blows from the left and right. We are in a fight and we need others to fight with us. These past few weeks I have struggled to find balance, to be honest. My home life and professional life as a teach-from-home mom, who is facilitating virtual learning with my children while teaching from the corner of my bedroom office, has been a challenge. But, what I am taking in from these past few weeks is what being an advocate, and a fighter for what is right, really means, and what that looks like in our profession.
What many Americans admired about Justice Ginsburg was that she was a fighter who stood firm on what she felt deep in her heart was right. One of my favorite RBG quotes is “fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.” As educators, our greatest responsibility is modeling for our students what it means to fight and how to fight hard. We do this by fighting for them and ourselves; using our power, positions, and platforms to advocate for what is right.
This week especially, I have been placed in several positions where enough was enough. As a parent, I witnessed my child struggle while his teacher struggled to simultaneously educate and engage students face-to-face and virtually. I have witnessed my husband struggle at the demands being placed on him, as a teacher, to ensure students are showing up to virtual lessons. I have listened to the cries of countless teachers who feel like each day is getting harder and harder. And, I have witnessed the tears of frustrated children who just want to return to the way things used to be.
However, on the flip side, I have witnessed joy, passion, and excitement from parents, educators, and students as a result of somebody standing up and fighting for what is right! If we are going to make it to the other side of this (whatever your this is), we have to collectively fight and advocate for those who can not fight for themselves. What does that look like in the now? It is holding true to the fact that what’s right is right and we–educators, students, and parents–deserve better. It’s ending a Zoom meeting early when you feel your child needs a brain break. It’s taking a day for some SEL when you and your students have just had enough. It’s speaking up at a school board meeting when you are tired of teachers taking the blame for everything, right about now. It’s constantly checking in with your students to see if their learning needs are being met and making necessary adjustments. It’s refusing to report back to work when you feel it is not safe for you to return to face-to-face. It’s limiting screentime from your child and giving them the outside time they need. Most importantly, it’s being unapologetic about doing what is best for YOU, YOUR STUDENTS, and YOUR FAMILY so we can all make it through this pandemic healthy and whole (mentally, physically, and emotionally). That’s what being a fighter is all about–demanding, and being an advocate, for what is only right.
Alexes M. Terry