May 29, 2013

Teachers Talk Back: Sadaf Ashraf

Sadaf Ashraf is in her fifth year of teaching. She currently teaches 6th grade history at Community Charter Middle School. She also helps lead the Student Government, is a member of the Common Core Assessment Team, and in the past has been instrumental in creating the school yearbook. Sadaf is on the E4E-Los Angeles Policy Team focused on creating career pathways and incentives for teachers.

What inspired you to become a teacher?

To be honest, I didn’t want to be a teacher at first because I didn’t think a teacher’s salary could sustain a family. After deciding that I didn’t actually want to become a lawyer, which is what I had initially considered as a career, I decided to enroll in a teaching credential program.  While in the program, I went to a high school classroom to observe. When I walked into the classroom, no one was in there.  I sat in the back of the room, waiting for everyone to come in, and all of the sudden, I was struck by an overwhelming sense of recognition that being a teacher was exactly what I was meant to do.  I trusted my gut, became a teacher and haven’t looked back since.

What is the issue in education that you are most passionate about?

It worries me that more often than not, teachers don’t have a say in education policies that impact the work that they do.  The disconnect between policymakers and teachers is a huge issue.  As a teacher who has to implement the policies, I feel that I should have a voice in creating policies that make sense for my students.

Why is a career pathway for teachers so important to you?

I think it goes back to giving teachers a voice.  Currently there aren’t many options for teachers.  Either you are a classroom teacher or you become an administrator, but there aren’t a lot of other possibilities to develop as a professional.  The current system fails to give teachers a voice in how they can direct their own lives.  Within other fields of work, employees have opportunities for advancement and mobility.  Teachers, on the other hand, don’t have opportunities to explore pathways in their career.  I like the idea of having options, where there are a variety of opportunities for teachers to pursue.  These options might include becoming a curriculum developer, becoming the content leader, grade-level leader or pursuing an outsourced fellowship program, etc. I like the idea of teachers being able to direct their own career based on their interests and strengths.

What has been a highlight for you so far as part of the E4E Policy Team on Creating Career Pathways?

I love that we are conducting research-based analysis and collaborating to create viable recommendations.  The policy team sessions are structured, with scaffolded learning based on research.  We are exposed to information about other systems and able to draw from this information for our own recommendations.

Why did you decide to become a member of E4E?

I loved the idea that I could be involved in something outside of just teaching and that I could have a voice in policy change.  I want to continue to be an advocate for the teacher voice and make a difference in our career and classrooms.