I usually have a handful of hints I look for when anyone calls themselves activists / thought leaders / experts in education, but the one that always sticks out revolves the kids. How they speak of the children matters more than any other factor. It’s not the awards, the qualifications, the degrees, the conference keynotes, the years spent in the classroom (to a certain extent), or even political leanings. It’s about how they speak of the young people they serve.
Do they talk only about a couple of students or do they speak about all of their students warmly? Do they not speak of students at all or speak about them in absolute hypotheticals? Are they interested in how their children live or is the allotted time period enough? Are they ever hard on themselves, or at least reflective about the faults they embody as teachers? Do the students reflect love to these adults back?
What’s that energy like?