Posts Tagged: Inspiration

In the Classroom
Weird but Not Too Weird
February 5, 2018
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Weird but Not Too Weird

Leticia Skae
@LSkae

Is teaching a science? An art? Or a craft? Can it be a little bit of all of those things? My husband is an executive principal, and we often brainstorm ways to solve educational problems regularly. It is quite possibly our favorite pastime. But when discussed what makes a great teacher, he explained his hiring process to me. When he interviews a teacher he is looking for a teacher that is “weird but not too weird.” (A philosophy that I’m sure he uses even in love).
In the Classroom Leadership
For Such a Time as This
January 15, 2018
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For Such a Time as This

Mark Wittman
@wittmanmarks

As I have reflected over the past 23 years of my teaching career, the scripture “for such a time as this” seemed to be the theme of my involvement with education. It was “for such a time as this” that I made the move from western Kansas and settled in the inner city of Memphis, TN. I settled in Memphis with 9 years of teaching experience and a heart to serve the community. My willingness, skills, and passion allowed me to be instrumental in opening a Faith-Based school where I served as a kindergarten teacher. Helping open this school was just the first stepping-stone of my future in Memphis. It was the first of the many experiences that were revealing to me that I was in Memphis “for such a time as this.”
In the Classroom
My Educational Journey
January 10, 2018
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My Educational Journey

Candace Hines
@Mrs_C_Hines

Peeking through the blinds, I anxiously search for friends who weren't sleeping in on this hot summer day. My heart leaps at the thought of playing school! Many days my Barbie dolls and teddy bears became my students. School was my place of escape - a place that I thrived and looked forward to visiting each day. Looking back, I realize that my passion for education was fueled by a welcoming elementary school experience.
In the Classroom
Do-overs, Mulligans, and New Beginnings in 2018: Three Tips for Starting the New Year with a Fresh Perspective
January 7, 2018
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Do-overs, Mulligans, and New Beginnings in 2018: Three Tips for Starting the New Year with a Fresh Perspective

Amy Crawford
@AmyKCrawford

A new year, a new me. One of my favorite things about being a teacher is that each new year brings another opportunity to try again. Last year’s mistakes are in the past. There's just something about a fresh start. A chance to do it better this time. A clean slate. No mistakes. No stains. No failures. No regrets. No disappointments. No bad decisions. The possibilities are endless. I can be a better person in the new year. Eat less. Exercise more. Get up earlier. Read more. Be nicer. Be more patient. Give my all. I think that's why I love a new school year. THIS year I'll be more organized. THIS year I won't procrastinate. THIS year I'll be the teacher I’ve always wanted to be every day...but, in time, I forget. I fall. I fail. I slide down the mountain of expectation I've climbed in the hope of a better view.
Professional Learning
Teachers: Resolve to Take Care of Yourself
January 4, 2018
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Teachers: Resolve to Take Care of Yourself

Tanya Hill
@TeachLikeALady

It’s that time of year again when everyone begins to make resolutions for the New Year. Many resolve to lose weight, exercise, eat better, save money, and even find love. In this fast paced society of getting things done quickly, some fail to achieve these goals. Teachers tend to make resolutions that deal with their effectiveness in lesson planning and instructional delivery. What is missing from these resolutions is the most important part of this equation: The teacher!
In the Classroom Leadership
Synergy
December 10, 2017
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Synergy

Hayley Cloud
@hcloud_tn

The Wright brothers created the world’s first powered airplane because they shared the same curiosity and intellect. Michael Jordan completed 15 seasons in the National Basketball Association with the help of a skilled team. Helen Keller devoted much of her life to raising awareness for people with disabilities after overcoming challenges with the help of Annie Sullivan. Martin Luther King Jr. had a grand impact on the Civil-Rights Movement because of the many demonstrators that followed him in his efforts. For centuries, some of the most influential people in history have changed the world as a result of synergy. Synergy is when two or more people interact, cooperate, or collaborate to produce a greater result.  Synergy is vital to creating effective schools.
In the Classroom
Metcalf – My Story
December 2, 2017
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Metcalf – My Story

Lynnsey Metcalf
@SterchiMetcalf

Being an educator was never a question for me, I just didn’t truly know what being an educator was, until I became one!
In the Classroom
How Have I Survived 25 Years of Teaching?
October 29, 2017
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How Have I Survived 25 Years of Teaching?

Al Feldblum
@afeldblum

Istarted my teaching career with two strikes against me. One, I am a high school math teacher; the only school subject with a recognized, known phobia. Not only must I overcome “Math Phobia” with my students, but also I must listen to adults say, “I hated math in high school,” or “I was terrible at math.”
In the Classroom Leadership
Find Your Mrs. P
October 22, 2017
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Find Your Mrs. P

Jeff Gray
@iteachushistory

My experience as a first year teacher is not unlike many others in the teaching profession. I was fresh out of school, ready to change the world. My first teaching job found me in a large southern city with a sordid, but progressive history in public education. I was assigned to teach 8th grade social studies in a large middle school located physically in a solid middle class suburb. However, our student population was anything but solid middle class. Through the then constitutional busing policy, our student population was majority minority with a high percentage of free and reduced lunch. Our faculty was full of “newbies” just like me, trying to change the world.
Leadership Policy Professional Learning
Once a Fellow, Always a Fellow
June 22, 2017
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Once a Fellow, Always a Fellow

Diarese George
@DiareseGeorge

What’s my next move? What are my options? Are there opportunities for growth beyond the classroom? In the classroom? This time last year, these were questions that I had asked myself. At the time, I had just completed my fourth academic year of teaching and wondered what my professional trajectory looked like in the coming years. I transitioned into education after working in business for six years after college. In business, there was always an understanding that if you came into an entry-level role, depending on the company, you should be preparing for upward mobility within 2-3 years. Having surpassed that timeframe in the classroom, I was anxious to see what my next steps in the profession would be. That’s when I came across teacher education fellowship opportunities after reading Commissioner McQueen’s monthly Educator Update. (See past updates and sign up to receive them here.)

I decided to apply to Hope Street Group’s State Teacher Fellowship, the State Collaborative on Reforming Education’s Tennessee Educator Fellowship, and Education Pioneers Summer Fellowship. I was surprised to be accepted to each of them! At the conclusion of this year, I have completed each fellowship. Reflecting on them, I see they each offered unique experiences that have equipped me to be a better educator.

My Education Pioneers Fellowship placed me at the Tennessee Department of Education in the Office of Licensure and Educator Preparation. Last summer I worked on a project that explored the opportunities and challenges of school districts collaborating with education preparation programs to create partnerships. Working at this level helped me to see education from a broader lens, especially regarding an initiative like that. That experience helped me to reframe my thought process and view situations from different perspectives. It also gave me access to executive directors across various departments, professional development with the Commissioner, and a chance to view the Department’s five Education Priorities at work in real time.

I participated in both the Hope Street Group and SCORE Fellowships at the same time during the 2016-2017 academic year. The Hope Street Group Fellowship connected me with other teachers and local and national policymakers to give feedback on critical education policy issues, while serving as a spokesperson for positive change in the profession. I also was able to provide feedback to the Department of Education regarding professional development, chronic absenteeism, and RTI2. Additionally, Fellows convened throughout the year to receive advocacy training to aid in our roles. Three of the most helpful things that I learned are how to utilize Twitter for professional development, how to participate in and host Twitter chats, and how to conduct a meaningful focus group.

The SCORE Fellowship selects teacher leaders from across the state to train them to advocate and elevate their voices to support and advance student-focused education policy. SCORE provided the historical context of education policy in Tennessee, including where the state started and how it became the fastest improving in the country. This Fellowship connected me with key individuals and policymakers who played a role in the state’s improvement. It also equipped and empowered me to lead my own advocacy project, which centered on supporting educators of color in Tennessee. SCORE convened Fellows four times throughout the year to provide both advocacy training to support our projects and opportunities to meet key stakeholders, including Commissioner McQueen, executive directors from national education reform organizations, state legislators, and gubernatorial candidates.

My participation in each one of these fellowships has left me feeling enlightened, equipped, and energized to continue to engage in the policy work that I have begun. As my fellowships concluded, I remind myself that the work is just starting. We need more educators involved in education policy and engaging policymakers. When highly effective educators inform and shape education policies based on their practical knowledge and experience of excellent teaching and learning, the results are better for students. I highly recommend any of these fellowships to any educator who is looking to advocate on behalf of students and make an impact in the policy space. Each one of these fellowships proclaim once a Fellow, always a Fellow. For that, I will forever be connected to these organizations, their ongoing work, and the future Fellows who participate in them.

Diarese has taught Business courses at Clarksville High School for the past three years. In that time, he has served as a lead instructor for the school’s career Academy, member of the Instructional Leadership Team and an Academy lead in cross­-curricular collaboration for project­-based learning. He is a graduate of his district’s Leadership Development course, and a district­-wide Professional Development facilitator for Microsoft Excel training. Diarese holds a BBA in Marketing and Management and M.A. in Corporation Communications from Austin Peay State University, MBA from University of Phoenix and an Ed.D. in Leadership and Professional Practice from Trevecca Nazarene University. He also serves as a Hope Street Group Tennessee Teacher Fellow, engaging his colleagues in providing classroom feedback to the Tennessee Department of Education on public education policy issues.