When I began teaching, I penned into my gradebook the list of the 180 students in my six English classes. I created and interpreted my own assessments. While I was supposed to follow the prescribed curriculum that began with a grammar unit, I wanted to make my own decisions. So, I quietly closed the door of my classroom and ultimately enjoyed the adventure that was my first year. I felt power in my choice to exercise some academic freedom, but I felt powerless in my ability to affect curricular change.
What’s the big difference, fifteen years later?
Then, I practiced subversive teaching, doing what I felt best in my classroom for my students—despite the mandates. Now, I verbalize and defend my choices. I use my reputation and experience as allies, working as an activist to affect policy, other practitioners, and ultimately, many more children than I ever could have imagined.
-Katie Dredger, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Virginia, 15 years teaching
Katie's story is a terrific example of how one teacher can influence policy and advocate for an issue right in his or her own school. Take those ideas one step further and begin influencing policymakers and advocating for education issues you believe in by taking part in NCTE's grassroots advocacy network.