When I look around schools, I wonder whether some teachers have enough social responsibility to be in the classroom in front of this generation’s children. It is amazing how much school has changed since I was in school. The type of teacher I had growing up might not survive in today’s school. I wonder if even the most effective teacher I had would be able to adapt to the ever-growing needs of students in schools today. The one aspect that has not changed is the need for teachers to provide a nurturing and welcoming learning environment for their students. What has changed is the need for teachers to be, for lack of a better word, “Woke.” They must understand what is going on in society and how it affects students. Teachers must take responsibility for their influence on what their students talk about, how they act, and what they will eventually grow to become. The words and influence of a teacher are powerful and can alter the trajectory of students. Social responsibility in teachers is about whether that teacher understands their role in the broader community of their school. Do they view the school as just the walls of the school building, or do they see the influence needed outside the school?
There is a lot of talk in education around the word equity. There are many definitions of what equity in school looks like. When it comes to the social responsibility of equity, teachers must know that not all students learn the same way. Students do not even learn at the same speed; I do believe that all teachers must provide students all with many chances to learn. Whether a student has a disability or not, teachers must provide the opportunity for success. Does equity mean that all students are treated the same? Does equity mean that all students are treated fairly? I believe teachers have a social responsibility to provide equitable opportunities for their students to develop their abilities.
A teacher has more of social responsibility in the classroom by not bring their personal biases in their teaching. Teachers have to be careful not to bring their opinions in the classroom. Teachers have major influences on their students, and their goal is to guide students to develop their reasoning and their thoughts. When it comes to politics and religion, they can be discussed in general, but teachers must be careful not to allow their personal opinions on those topics to promote their own beliefs. The teacher must enable the students to be presented with objective information so they can form their own decisions and think independently and not be persuaded by the beliefs and words of their teacher. When they get older and enter the world, we must be sure they can make a sound decision on their own and be able to decipher between what is true to them and what is not.
As I speak with teachers coming into the profession, I want them to understand their social responsibility. Social responsibility is key to teaching in their era. We must have teachers who understand the importance of their social responsibility to their students.