Use Your Teacher Voice video campaign launched by Chicago teacher Adam Heenan

All teachers may contribute to the video campaign, Use Your Teacher Voice. Chicago teacher Adam Heenan began the campaign on August 15.Since Chicago teacher (blogger, organizer and Substance reporter) Adam Heenan launched “Use Your Teacher Voice,”

a video campaign on August 15, the You Tube campaign has been promoted by GOOD magazine

and “Two Teachers and a Microphone” in their “Letter to Arne Duncan.” The campaign uses the natural talents of teachers.

“When teachers need the attention of the class; when we claim our authority in the classroom, we use our teacher voice,” Heenan said. “We all know what it sounds like: it's not threatening, but it is declarative. It's not hostile, but it does warn. Teachers are good at this in the classroom, but it is time we use our teacher voice outside the classroom, and direct at those who say we don't deserve our teacher voice, or that our teacher voice has become unnecessary.”

Heenan explained in a Q and A with Liz Dwyer, the education editor of GOOD magazine, why the video campaign exists and what he hopes it will accomplish.

What specifically inspired you to start the campaign?

“We see teacher-bashing in the mainstream media is at an all-time high in the US, yet whenever we individually talk to people: parents, business community members, politicians, they love us, they respect and appreciate us. It's like being told, "Everyone of you teachers is terrible, but we don't mean you," and while teachers know that isn't true, it's demoralizing when the story we hear from our community members isn't the one that is heard on the news. The last thing we need in front of our children is a demoralized, under-valued adult. When we "use our teacher voice" we reclaim our authority, and with it, our identity, because what we do on a daily basis is more than just a job. It's a calling, a vocation in the truest form of the word.”

What do you hope the campaign will accomplish? “Teachers are terrible at self-advocating, and that eats away at our internal dignity. I hope that teachers will see that there are many ways to advocate for their students, their schools, and themselves. I expect to see teachers creatively expressing themselves for what they dream education in this country can look like. I want to teachers to see how many of us there really are. I want non-teachers to see how many of us there are that really care about what we do, and that we know your children better than any test-score can ever show. Outside of reclaiming our teacher-identity, our authority, I have no idea what can come out of this project.”

In an email to CORE caucus members in the Chicago Teachers Union, Heenan explained how to post videos.

The video you post to UseYourTeacherVoice is yours. You may speak on any edu-topic of your choosing. UYTV does not have a political stance past encouraging you to reclaim your stance. I do expect some common themes to crop up, and if you wish to, feel free to speak on any or all of these topics: high-stakes testing, equitable funding, public schools, classroom size, teacher evaluations, decision-making, curriculum and instruction, education reform, etc. Perhaps you start your video with a quote and take it from there. How to Use Your Teacher Voice:

1) Make a short video on a subject you wish to speak on

2) Post the video to YouTube

3) Tag the video UseYourTeacherVoice

4) Pass it on to others.

(It is not necessary, but will help with "virality" if you email your video link to, or subscribe to the UseYourTeacherVoice YouTube channel.)

It's time to stop letting others speak in our place. It's time for us to say what we know, in ways that we can, for reasons we must: our students, our schools, our curricula, ourselves. In the words of Educator and poet Taylor Mali: "Speak with Conviction: say what you believe in in a manner that bespeaks the determination with which you believe it."

I entreat you, I implore you, and I challenge you to Use Your Teacher Voice.

Thank you.

Adam P. Heenan

Chicago, IL


Facebook: Use Your Teacher Voice

Twitter: @UseYrTcherVoice, #UseYourTeacherVoice

YouTube Channel:


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