You’re an educator and your voice matters. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that said to me. I’m one year away from reaching double digits in my teaching career and it is only within this past year that I have really seen and felt how much my voice as a teacher, as an educator, truly matters.

I existed within the four walls of my classroom just fine, making sure my scores were good, making sure my evaluations were good, and most importantly, making sure my students were learning. I had ideas. I had my own opinions. I also believed that the chasm between me in the classroom and those in Nashville was too deep for those ideas and opinions to be heard. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

I have heard, several times, someone from the Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) discuss the data gained from the results of the Tennessee Educator Survey. It shocked me, but in the end, I was happy that my voice was a part of that. If you have taken this year’s survey you should feel confident that your voice will be heard in all the questions. If you have not then let me tell why you should reserve 20 minutes of your day, open up your email, and take it.

A variety of great questions
The survey asks a variety of questions that we all have probably voiced our opinion about to our colleagues. The questions range from topics on a teacher’s relationship to their administration, colleagues, and parents to time spent on behavioral issues. You will also see questions related to curriculum and instructional materials, testing, and RTI2 (response to intervention). There are even key questions on the teacher evaluation system.

It’s confidential
Your name will not be attached to the results. Only the district and school where the teacher is from will be known, and nothing else. They truly want to know our honest response to the questions and want you to feel safe in giving it.

They really want to know
It’s true! They really want our feedback on the questions. Our collective feedback helps to guide decision making at the TDOE. I’ve heard it myself how the TDOE has used information from the survey to guide decisions. It’s not just there though. That data can also be used to guide decision-making at the school and district level. This is a big deal! Also, we have a new education commissioner this year. You may be working with a new principal or there may be a new superintendent or director of schools. This survey will provide great data for them so they can know our opinions and voices on key matters. Keep in mind districts need the participation of at least 45 percent of teachers to complete the survey in order to get any reports back.

The Tennessee Educator Survey gives us a great opportunity to share our voice, to share our opinions on matters that affect us every single day in the classroom. It’s our responsibility to share those opinions, and the survey provides us a safe way to do that. The more educators that participate the better because it will paint a great picture for our leaders on what our opinions are on a variety of issues.

If you don’t see the survey in your inbox, check your junk/clutter folders. The April 19 deadline is approaching so tell your colleagues and encourage your district leaders to communicate how important it is to complete the survey. We’re Tennessee educators and our voice matters. Share it.

Ontoni Reedy is a 2018-19 Tennessee Educator Fellow and teaches grades 1-3 in Jackson-Madison County Schools