Over the course of this shortened week, I'm going to talk a bit about why I'm optimistic about public education in the U.S. To grossly over-simplify the current education reform debate, most folks these days fall into one of two camps--a) things are terrible and we must reform now, and b) things aren't so bad/are improving and reforms are destroying our schools. I'm going to argue that both groups are partly right--that things are clearly, by almost any metric, improving, but that this doesn't mean we should cease our efforts to improve schools.
Since teacher leaders are classroom-based professionals who are on-the-ground innovators, I thought I'd take the liberty of seeing how these 9 principles would help describe the disruptive force of teacher leadership
Teachers bring on-the-ground credibility to such work and can speak powerfully about perception and reality through real stories about real students. And, while I recognize the limitations of my perspective, I have grown through the year as I listen to teachers across the state from Jamestown to New York City share their perspectives on our social studies frameworks and resources that would add value to their work.
If we are to bridge the sometimes cavernous gap between policy and practice and move closer to the promise of a premier education for all our students, the voices of successful educators must be incorporated into policy development from start to finish.
In the rush to apply quick-fix solutions to very complex problems, the voices of those most knowledgeable about how to best educate kids in mathematics (teachers, math specialists, teacher educators, and researchers) often get drowned out by the masses who are not in the education field, but have strong opinions nonetheless. The result is a misguided attempt at reforming the way we teach math in our country.
The Sword of Damocles has once again been raised. Unfortunately, today it hangs over the head of the American teacher. For many educators, these are the times that try men's souls. Teachers are not only faced with the challenges of implementing new learning standards and evaluation models, but must also take care of the physical and emotional needs of every student under their watch.
What will happen to society if education reform continues to rush past students, only to bear-hug standards?
I have a bit of problem, to be honest with you. I am addicted to teaching. I can't stop thinking about school. My mind is constantly thinking about new ways to organize my lessons, challenge my students, and help improve student engagement. The list goes on.
In addition to my "day job" as a literacy coach at Miller Park Elementary in Omaha, NE, I serve in several teacher leadership roles that have provided me great opportunities to bridge the world of practice and policy. I have attempted to succinctly organize some of the bigger ideas I am working on.
I loved teaching and never saw myself in any other role. However, as life evolved, and mentors guided me, it led me to paths I had never imagined. I had unique and wonderful opportunities that were extremely entrepreneurial as education leadership positions go. And all too rare.