A Critical Dialogue on Educators’ Return to School: Prospects for Strengthening Professional Practice
Education has undergone significant transformations. This is evident when we consider the revisionist account of American history regarding slavery and the adjustments to the curriculum in Florida as an illustration. These changes motivated by ideological incoherence threaten to test educators’ professional fortitude regarding reactions to curricular challenges, book bans, and the discursive molding of parent engagement in education. For this reason, we focus our discussion on conceptualizations of remaining professionally vigilant. That is to say, although the field of education has been subjected to some of the most devastating assaults, we consider these dynamics for review: Asserting our unwavering determination to preeminence in the domain of education, questioning the harmful ideas about curriculum, and building the next generation of educational leaders.
First, as educators we have a professional obligation to fulfill. Our primary goal should be to influence educational practices by using instructional knowledge to equitably support learners. We recognize that teaching in today’s atmosphere is fraught with challenges. These obstacles pose a danger to instructional autonomy. Nonetheless, our professional responsibility reminds us that achieving excellence in instructional practice is necessary. In essence, we eschew the adherence to prevailing trends, nor do we succumb to insidious pedagogical strategies. We steadfastly maintain our alignment with our professional objectives.
Furthermore, it is imperative to bear in mind that we possess the prerogative as custodians of the curriculum and conduct ourselves in a manner befitting such authority. Our goal is not preservation, but rather restoration of sound public education. We strive to rebuild the basis of education rather than constantly treating the symptoms of a system never designed to promote the achievement of all learners. Work will be required, and we are always working. We are working when we conduct and disseminate research. We are engaged in productive work as academics when we offer thought-provoking questions, advocate for one another and ourselves, and make space for one another.
In conclusion, it is imperative that we direct our attention towards the future by providing unwavering support to aspiring educators through the implementation of mentorship initiatives, such as the esteemed AACTE’s Holmes Scholars program. The Holmes Scholars program is a nationwide initiative created to diversify the higher education teaching pipeline. The Holmes program’s goal is to assist researchers in understanding the three pillars that underpin a professor’s academic career: research, teaching, and service. As a result, we must be steadfast in our commitment to mentoring the next generation of educational leaders. Our hope is that readers of this post will embrace the challenge of the upcoming school year with vigor. In a comparable manner, we earnestly aspire that individuals will be inclined to pursue a feeling of collective affiliation (through AACTE) with the intention of assertively championing the enhancement of our professional protocols, upholding unwavering vigilance concerning matters pertaining to curriculum, and actively participating in the nurturing of aspiring educators.
Amanda Wilkerson, Ed.D., is an assistant professor in the College of Community Innovation and Education at the University of Central Florida.
Shalander “Shelly” Samuels, Ed.D., is an assistant professor in the College of Liberal Arts ( School of General Studies) at Kean University.