Teaching Today
                                                                                                              By Lisa Hantman 

As a public, urban educator of 27 years, I continue to strive for excellence in my classroom. No matter what is happening around us, I want my students to receive the very best educational opportunity that I can offer. Waning is not my enthusiasm or philosophical beliefs that what teachers do really matters in a society. However, my energy and hope is being depleted, as the resources for our students and the honoring of public access to education in our society continually shrinks and rampant and violent racism and classism is on the rise.

Year after year I have worked 10-12 hour days to provide a classroom that offers students a chance to thrive as academics and socially active citizens, and now, added to that very full time job, I have the job of saving my job. Public access to education, workers’ rights, teachers being treated as professionals and honoring education, are all being threatened. Dismantling education for the masses is ever present, as is big business imploding our chances to educate our young by encroaching on our days with standardized examinations in the name of accountability, which, by the way, is humbug. They are not the source of our accountability. They are big money makers for a select few.

Our children continue to suffer the consequences, which means the future of our country will suffer. However, I hold fast to hope. I collaborate with many teaching professionals who continually work to counter the spiraling out of control of privatization, testing, union and worker bashing and the destruction of our schools. The opt-out movement, the Black Lives Matter movement, the myriad of teacher networks are all symbolic of the presence of folks who will not let the narrow minded, the controlling billionaires, the racists, the power mongers, and the demolitionists of Democracy win.

    I am working with a group of educators to spread the word that opting out of the high stakes tests is the right and option of parents. I, also, am working with a group of educators to help mobilize the workers and parents of this city to take back our schools. Additionally, another group of us is designing and implementing a tristate teacher convening that will allow teachers to learn and support each other, and will, hopefully, continue the collaborative stance and the associations created.

    Within my classroom, I am continually striving to create an environment that holds students accountable for their learning. I am supporting them to make decisions, observe their community closely, and to act to benefit those communities. I teach them, not only the mandated facts and skills, but how to learn and I work to raise their awareness of who they are in society and honor the multitudes of cultures and people as individuals. Additionally, I work with new teachers helping them create classrooms full of energy, excitement, investment, authenticity, intentionality, creativity, individuality and hope.

   My colleagues and I strive to make a difference, even more so in these trying times. Individuals can make a difference and my hope is everpresent.

Lisa Hantman is a Philadelphia primary school teacher at McCall public school. She has been a member of PhilWP for twenty-five years. She was a participant of Summer Institute two, twice!