Posts Tagged: Teacher Leadership

In the Classroom
Metcalf – My Story
December 2, 2017
0
, , , ,
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 Leadership
Find Your Mrs. P
October 22, 2017
0
, , , , ,
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
Get Caught in the “Web” of Teacher Leadership
August 29, 2017
0
, , , , ,
Get Caught in the “Web” of Teacher Leadership

Maureen Henderson
@MaureenHender18

Imagine a spider spinning a web.  It begins with individual fibers, then works to strengthen them, carefully finishing with their connection.   Across the state of Tennessee there are many strands of teacher leadership being spun.  Amazing initiatives and programs have been put in place to reinforce them.  What does it look like when these pieces are woven together to create a strong, powerful design?
Leadership Policy Professional Learning
Once a Fellow, Always a Fellow
June 22, 2017
0
, , , , , , , , , ,
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.

Leadership Policy Professional Learning
Finding Your Teacher Voice
June 16, 2017
0
, , , , ,
Finding Your Teacher Voice

Hayley Cloud
@hcloud_tn

Ibegan holding adult conversations at a very early age. My vocabulary was well beyond my years, and I could hold a conversation with almost anyone who would listen, no matter the individual’s age, gender, or appearance. I wasn’t picky. Looking back, I’m sure the duration of my conversations sometimes reached the level of annoyance. I know my audience must have thought after a while,  “How do I get her to stop? How much more can I take?” Let’s just say that I have always had a voice, and it was a pretty strong one. I never had trouble finding my voice—until I became a teacher.
Leadership Policy
Educators of Color Need More Support
December 31, 2016
0
, , , , , , ,
Educators of Color Need More Support

Dr. Diarese George
@DiareseGeorge

As an educator of color, especially a male, sometimes I feel like I am on an island waiting to see the next educator of color like me.  I teach at a high school where I am the only male African American educator among six other educators of color on the staff.  After participating in three different educator fellowships, I realize that the experiences of being in the classroom and participating in a teacher leadership resemble one another:  there aren’t many educators of color in either.  That’s not to say that there aren’t any in the education profession because there are.  However, at times when there needs to be a collective body or voice present for educators of color, it is lacking, specifically in areas regarding policy and advocacy.

There are several organizations that advocate for increasing the diversity pipeline of educators in Tennessee. However, there are few that explicitly support educators of color.  With the increasing number of diverse students in the state, it is important to identify issues that educators of color face in the profession and provide support, resources, and solutions so that they can remain in the profession.   The Tennessee Educators of Color Alliance (TECA) fills this void.  This is an organization that I am developing aimed at amplifying the voice, presence, and support for educators of color while remaining student-centered and solutions-oriented.  Through this approach, it is desired that educators of color will increase in recruitment numbers, leadership roles, and recognition while producing positive learning outcomes for all Tennessee students.

One of the current primary initiatives is to establish a teacher leadership council of educators of color who represent diverse backgrounds and regional locations in Tennessee.  This council will be charged with identifying problems affecting educators of color and the students they serve.  Additionally, it will be developing solutions and resources, identifying organizations and current work to align with and support, and advocating for increased understanding of cultural perspective between educators of color and all Tennessee students.  A near future initiative is to establish the Educators of Color Leadership Conference, which will provide an opportunity for educators of color to convene and discuss solutions to issues that trouble the profession, acquire professional development, and receive resources for further support.

If you are interesting in getting more information about TECA or how to support its efforts, please feel free to contact me at diarese@tneca.org.  

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.

Leadership
Part of the Tribe
December 14, 2016
0
, , , ,
Part of the Tribe

Amanda Arnold
@Amanda_Arnold77

Andrew Carnegie once said, “Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision.  The ability to direct individual accomplishment toward organizational objectives.  It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.”  Academic success for any student requires a team of accomplished educationalists, working towards a clearly defined vision, using needs based, data-driven interventions to achieve measurable goals.

“One Tribe” is our school’s motto. Our team is a tribe. Merriam-Webster defines a tribe as:

1a :  a social group comprising numerous families, clans, or generations…
2 :  a group of persons having a common character, occupation, or interest

A tribe works together in an organized fashion, as a team, to achieve common interests or goals. Teamwork has a lot to do with successful students.

Academic success for any student requires a tribe of educationalists, community members, parents, and staff working towards a clearly defined vision with measurable goals and needs based, data-driven, interventions. District-wide guiding tenets and state standards serve as a foundation to help schools and communities build and modify collaborative processes to address demonstrated needs.

An important term is “demonstrated needs,” which vary from student to student.  Every day schools are addressing needs from academic to socio-emotional. Every day it takes a tribe of people to recognize, address, and meet those needs so students can experience success.  Success is not equal for all students. Every educator knows that some students have more barriers to overcome. It takes a tribe to remove these barriers or at least make them manageable for the students in the tribe.

Every single person in the school is part of the tribe, but the tribe extends beyond the school. The tribe extends into the community, into homes, and across the state. The legislature is passing the communal law for the tribe, so educators need to exercise their voices. Educators need to answer all of those surveys we get every year. The tribe has to have clear communication. It’s hard to design a well-orchestrated plan of success if the parts of the whole are not communicating. Communication has to be clear among legislators, schools, parents, and students.

All students can be successful when student success is addressed collaboratively. As Andrew Carnegie said, “Teamwork… is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.” Amazing things happen when everyone works towards a common, well designed vision to provide ALL students with a world-class and student-focused education. It’s great to be part of the tribe.

Amanda has taught English at Dobyns­ Bennett High School for the past five years. In that time, Amanda has served as the English 9 Co­Taught Team Leader, English 10 Co­Taught Team Leader, Co­President of the Alpha Zeta Chapter of Alpha Delta Kappa International Honor Society for Women Educators and on the Tennessee Digital Learning Team. Throughout her career she has served as a school­-wide Title I coordinator, school-­level testing coordinator and 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant coordinator. She holds a Bachelors and Masters degree from East Tennessee State University. In 2010, she earned an Educational Specialist degree in Instruction and Curriculum Leadership from Lincoln Memorial University. She also serves as a Hope Street Group Tennessee Teacher Fellow, engaging her colleagues in providing classroom feedback to the Tennessee Department of Education on public education policy issues.

In the Classroom Leadership
Breaking Down Global Barriers
December 12, 2016
0
, , , ,
Breaking Down Global Barriers

Hayley Cloud
@hcloud_tn

When I think of a globe, I think of the dusty sphere that sat on a cabinet in my elementary classrooms when I was a child. I always saw this sphere from afar. I barely knew what it was comprised of. I didn’t know why it was mounted at an angle or why parts of it were bumpy. I only knew that it was a representation of the world in which I live. I would have loved to fix my hands around the spherical object and for my teacher to guide me in the exploration of its contents. My curiosity about that dusty globe is what I see in children today.

A global society is a connection among humans around the world. It is a sense of community.  It is a system of networks and worldly relations.  Too often, we are unsure of the boundaries that exist between societies and are discouraged or unwilling to cross them.  Educators can help eliminate the uncertainty, encourage global awareness, and satisfy students’ curiosity.  Obtaining the proper content knowledge, fostering creativity, and providing structure and support for learners can help guide them through the learning process.

With rural west Tennessee being my home, the Gulf of Mexico being as far south as I have traveled, Chicago being as far north, and having never stepped foot out west, I find it a bit unimaginable and extremely ambitious to attempt teaching students about the world as a whole.  I feel confident in my ability, as a leader, to teach students everything they need to know about an individual society, such as the country, state, or community in which they live.  How to form a global society remains a question to some, and I often search for the answer myself.  While many practices, such as travel programs, allow opportunities for students to reach out in a global society, they are not all tailored to fit elementary grade levels. There are many resources and practices available to help teachers build awareness in their classroom.

Teaching students about our global community through a curriculum is one practice that I can identify with as a leader in my own elementary classroom.  States within the United States, such as Tennessee, have revamped their previous standards into standards that provide rigorous instruction, critical thinking, and more complex text that increase student global awareness.  The third grade Tennessee social studies standards cover the geography of the world.  They include analyzing the globe, locating major countries, continents, and oceans, and identifying physical features of the world.  I have been able to teach in themes, such as global poverty, global advocacy, and global citizenship.  The standards themselves have added to my level of confidence in my ability to be a teacher leader in a global society.

There are many websites available with a plethora of lesson plans, videos, activities, and online text.  The two sites, World's Largest Lesson and Newsela, help me build global awareness in my classroom.  I use these resources to teach students about classrooms around the world, problems our world faces, and all sorts of news events from across the globe.  A global collaboration website called iEARN allows students to learn through global projects and learning circles with participants in 140 countries.  This year, the students in my class participated in a project that required them to research and discuss the causes of hunger in the world and brainstorm ways to solve the global issue.  Each of these sites help me supplement the curriculum which I teach and meet a number of the state standards.

With technology growing rapidly, teachers are always hunting for ways to make it part of their daily practice.  Skype can be used to connect classrooms with other classrooms, authors, and experts from around the world.  It is a free service that allows classrooms to interact with others through video chat.  Another way to connect classrooms is by assigning students to e-pals at other schools.  Epals is a platform where students can make meaningful connections with other learners.  Teachers can even assign students to online projects to work on with their e-pals.  Merging these two forms of 21st-century communication can open up doors in our global society and break down global barriers in education, as well as address the standards that many United States classrooms teach.

Students have the world at their fingertips, and yet seem so detached from it.  Barriers must be broken, and teacher leaders must be more transparent so that fellow teachers and students are active members of a global society.  This begins with teachers removing the globe from the shelf and wiping away the dust that lies upon the surface.

Hayley teaches 3rd grade at West Chester Elementary School. She has been teaching with the Chester County School System for 4 years. Hayley is presently serving as a teacher leader/data coach in her school. She is also a member of the district writing team. She has led PLCs within her district and has attended focus groups concentrating on supporting Tennessee educators. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from the University of Memphis. She is currently pursuing her Masters Degree in Curriculum and Instruction. She also serves as a Hope Street Group Tennessee Teacher Fellow, engaging her colleagues in providing classroom feedback to the Tennessee Department of Education on public education policy issues.

In the Classroom Professional Learning
Leading From The Classroom
July 22, 2016
0
, ,
Leading From The Classroom

Originally posted and featured at TNEdreport.com

Debbie Hickerson
@DebHickerson

E very professional journal we see these days contains an article which examines professional development for teachers. It is thrilling to see the educational community focus on ways we can better our practice, hone in on our talents, and strategize ways to find more tools for our classroom teachers.

The highly regarded educational trainer and author, Harry Wong, has told us for years, “It is the teacher – what the teacher knows and can do – that is the most significant factor in student achievement.” (The First Days of School, 2001). This tells me that we must find the time, money, and support that will allow us to invest in our teachers. I have an idea on how we can do just that.

School districts are making requests for more substantial budgets today than they ever have. Even small school systems are seeking millions of dollars for operating costs. With so many school districts looking for ways to make the most of their allocations, it’s time to get creative with professional learning. It just makes sense to capitalize on the assets by having teachers instruct, not just mentor, one another and share their talents, skills, techniques, materials, resources, and strategies. Tennessee State Teacher Fellows working with the non-profit organization, Hope Street Group, produced a report in January 2016 containing data from teacher surveys and focus groups held throughout the state in the Fall of 2015. The press release states, “The Hope Street Group report focuses on professional learning and teacher leadership, with results indicating that over half of the survey respondents aspire to a teacher leader role while remaining in the classroom.” Tennessee teachers didn’t want to leave the kids, they just wanted to help maximize their colleagues’ effectiveness.

These findings should cause principals to take a look at their faculty. The school is filled with scholars! These are highly educated people, with various degrees, skills, and talent. Why not tap into all that expertise?

What would leading from the classroom look like? “Teachers teaching teachers” is not a new concept, but it is one that is underused. This type of professional learning provides many opportunities for teachers to step up to take active roles in peer training. Districts who implement this style of teacher leadership have teachers who are leading in-service professional development. They may have book talks or hold lunch-and-learn sessions, lead professional book clubs, and occasionally spend time during faculty meetings giving presentations, sharing ideas, pedagogy, and/or strategies. Why not allow teachers to sign up once a month to conduct after school professional learning workshops?

Costs. Teacher-led professional development fosters accountability, collegiality, and teamwork. Schools receive funds earmarked for professional learning, so why not have teachers leave campus to travel to other schools and use these funds to cover the expense of substitutes? That afternoon, the same substitutes would be moved to different classrooms for another set of teachers to leave campus to observe lessons. The cost to the schools, and disruption to the students is minimal. The cost would be even less if paraprofessionals were used in place of substitutes.

True Collaboration. Language Arts teachers could spend one planning session a week with Drama, Social Studies, History, and Science teachers teaching them how to do a close reading of their content area materials. The following week, the content area teachers could provide valuable background knowledge for the Language Arts teacher before he/she begins a new topic as well as providing ideas for projects, differentiating lessons, and multisensory activities. This type of planning would be critical for arts-integrated lessons, particularly as many districts are embracing STEAM activities and strategies now.

Using built in PLC days. School districts that build in half days to the yearly calendar, could maximize those afternoons by offering break-out sessions for which teacher leaders offer a variety of professional learning workshops allowing teachers from any school to attend based on their own need and interest. Teachers would then have the option to receive specific methods, activities, hands-on materials, make-and-take manipulatives, as well as new strategies to take back and share with their teams. This would also provide an opportunity for teachers to discuss current trends in education, legislative bills that are coming up, or learning how to use Twitter, Linkedin, or other social media to their professional advantage.

It takes a village to raise a teacher. There are so many online webinars for teachers to earn PD credit, wouldn’t it be great to have a team who previews those and only shares the best, most valuable information? Many districts have parent conference days, classroom work days, and half days in which the special area teachers (also known as related arts) have nothing required of them. (Special area teachers include Drama, Music, Chorus, Band, P.E., Art, Library, STEM, Guidance Counselor, and the like). Having them work on a committee to preview PD webinars could potentially be a great school improvement project that would benefit everyone on the faculty.

Teacher buy-in is essential. Teacher leadership is going to require whole-hearted teacher and administrator buy-in, but the facts are indisputable. No intervention can make the difference that a skilled, knowledgeable teacher can, it is cost effective, makes the best use of our time, and is collaborative in nature. Since our schools receive school-wide scores and grades, quite frankly, the truth is when our colleagues look good, we all look good.

With twenty years of teaching experience, Debbie holds a Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood and Elementary Education, a Master of Education as a Reading Specialist, and an Educational Specialist degree in Administration and Supervision from Middle Tennessee State University. A former President of the Murfreesboro Education Association, Debbie currently serves on the National Advisory Board for Scholastic, is a Mentor Teacher for MTSU’s MTeach Program, a judge for CODiE Awards of the Software & Information Industry Association, is on the Member Advisory Panel for the National Education Association and has written numerous grants totaling more than $10,000 during her teaching career. Debbie is actively involved in The Last Minute Toy Store, Haiti Relief, Feed the Hunger, and Blue Raider Athletic Association. She also serves as a Hope Street Group Tennessee Teacher Fellow, engaging her colleagues in providing classroom feedback to the Tennessee Department of Education on public education policy issues.