Why I’m a Bad Ass Teacher…


Offended by my profanity?  Truly… I’m sorry.  But certain words have a power that simply captures an essence.  In this case, badass works.  I’m a badass teacher.

How do you define ‘bad ass?”  Need help?  There are plenty of sources to define it for you.  Check Urban Dictionary .  Or the Oxford Dictionary

Personally, I think Navy Seals are badass.  I think we see badass literary characters (Beowulf, Katniss), badass movie characters (Trinity, Batman), badass business successes (Branson, Oprah) and badass activists (MLK, Jr., OWS) that provide a glimpse into what is possible if we are willing to do something.

Bad Ass Teacher?  Sounds a bit oxymoronic.  Not according to a fast growing group of teachers linked together by social media with a clear message: Teachers Need To Talk!

Created by Priscilla Sanstead, a parent activist in Oklahoma, Dr. Mark Naisson, an African American Studies professor at Fordham University in New York and Marla Kilfoye, a teacher and parent activist from Long Island, Bad Ass Teacher’s (BAT’s) stated mission is:

To give voice to every teacher who refuses to be blamed for the failure of our society to erase poverty and inequality. BAT members refuse to accept assessments, tests and evaluations created and imposed by corporate driven entities that have contempt for real teaching and learning.

The Facebook group grew to 24,800 members in less than two months.  There is a Twitter feed and a large number of teachers who blog and re-post about BAT.  Mainstream media nodded at the group with articles on Yahoo  and  the Washington Post.  Even Diane Ravitch addressed the group: on her blog and directly.

I joined the group. I do not agree with every part of the manifesto and every teacher who posts. I enjoy this group because they are not afraid to have the conversation.  I am excited to see what happens next.

Grassroots activism from an unlikely group… a group of teachers.  But this group of teachers recognizes that standing together, raising your voices and fighting for change is important.

To be considered badass, you have to change your attitude.

I think I am (a little) badass.

  • I recognize my voice and I am willing to have the difficult conversations about education and educational policy.  It is time to turn dialogue into action.  I want to be in the conversation.
  • I do what I do each day and after 25 years still love it!  High school teacher, three preps, variety of students, some challenging colleagues, and new roles.  I want to be involved because I want quality education for my children and students.
  • I am willing to improve, learn new technology, and change my lessons to best meet the needs of my students.  Can’t we always get better?
  • I stay involved and participate on multiple levels including my site, my district, and my state.  Teachers need to be involved.  We need to be seen, heard, and active.

 What to be Bad Ass?  Here is a starting point:

  • Say what you mean, mean it and follow through.  Don’t we want this from our administration, colleagues, students and ourselves?
  • Ask questions, both of your administration, your colleagues… and most importantly… of yourself.
  • Assert yourself.  When something is wrong or can be made better, do not wait for someone else to take care it. Jump in and ACT!

Bottom line: Bad Ass teachers have an attitude and behavior that is admirable.  On the spectrum of badass, I’m still defining where I fall… but I am on the spectrum.   For me, this is not a revolution but hopefully a revelation that teachers have a voice, teachers know some things, and teachers are willing to share.

Be Bad Ass!


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