So, last year, I posted a fairly scathing critique of the keynote speaker, Farley Flex, largely because as a non-educator, he didn’t have a ton to say to teachers. Obviously, someone at the convention committee was listening, because this year, they brought in Dr. Debbie Silver, Ed.D. She has been a Louisiana teacher of the year, spoken at international teacher’s conferences and is featured on PBS as a “Feature Teacher.” Also, she taught in a classroom for 30 years, so she knows of what she speaks.
The keynote she presented was “Be A Teacher — Be A Hero!” on the importance of teachers to students. She told the story of how she became a teacher and how teachers around her influenced the kind of teacher she became. Not someone who was destined for the profession, a series of coincidences led her to the classroom, and she stayed in order to make a difference in kids’ lives.
Dr. Silver argues that the root of many of the problems that teachers face is our inability or unwillingness to tell our stories. We don’t congratulate each other on changing kid’s lives or on making a difference year in and year out in sometimes challenging conditions.
While there wasn’t a lot of meat and potatoes to take back to the classroom and implement, her message that teachers’ caring for students is the most important quality they bring to the classroom is one that we need to hear more often.