I don’t mean I couldn’t find my voice in the classroom, with my students. That happened naturally. The problem was that I wanted to project my voice beyond my four classroom walls, but I didn’t know how. As teachers, we sometimes feel we are confined within those walls. I was one of those teachers.
That changed during my fourth year teaching, when a colleague led me to her computer to the Tennessee Department of Education’s Educator Update. Here is where I discovered that the Hope Street Group Tennessee State Teacher Fellowship was seeking new Fellows. The Hope Street Group Tennessee State Teacher Fellows are teachers and coaches across the state who work to inform policy, amplify teacher voice, and serve as spokespeople for positive change in education. As part of my work with the Fellowship, I’ve held focus groups to gain insight on public education issues, invited Senator Delores Gresham to shadow my classroom, and have developed relationships with some of the most influential people in education. And just like that — I found my voice again!
Your voice matters too. In fact, it is one of the most important things you possess. Here are three ways to elevate your teacher voice:
Accept That Your Voice is Unique and Powerful
Your voice is unique because your experiences and perceptions are also unique. Every single teacher can bring something different to the table. Illuminate the positive things going on in your classroom and unveil the negative consequences education policy has had on it. Believe that your unique voice has the power to bring about change.
Search for Opportunities
There are many opportunities for teachers to share their voices:
- Begin by searching for opportunities to start conversations in your school and community.
- Seek publication of your writing in blogs, local newspapers, and school websites.
- Ask to join the Faculty Advisory Committee (FAC), planning committees, or any other teams within your district.
- Head over to Classroom Chronicles and check out their Teacher Opportunities Archive
- Sign up here to receive the Tennessee Department of Education’s Educator Update, and search for opportunities to join standards review committees, test item review committees, and teacher fellowships, such as Hope Street Group Tennessee State Teacher Fellowship and The State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE).
Stakeholders in education include anyone vested in the success of schools and students, including the students themselves. While teachers are in constant interaction with students, they must work to engage other stakeholders in education. The following are ways for you to build your Professional Learning Network (PLN):
- Connect with other educators on Twitter. Twitter chats are a fun way to meet teachers from across the state.
- Send an email to district leaders requesting a meeting to introduce yourself.
- Find your legislators by going to www.capitol.tn.gov/legislators and completing a quick search. Then, send an email, call, or invite them to your classroom!
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.