Monday, November 23, 2015

Ways that we can #TeachStrong for teachers and students

Being a teacher is a pleasure and a privilege. I value collaboration, connectivity, creativity, innovation, and reflection.  These are important ideas I engage in continually as an educator because they stem from what I am passionate and curious about - learning.  

However, these values are not always apparent in the systems impacting the teaching profession. New demands are constantly being placed on teachers, making it difficult for us to find the time and space for professional growth, building connections, and fostering creativity. So how can we advance the teaching profession to offer these things to all teachers? How can they be modeled and taught explicitly, and shared with others who are entering the profession?

I have a few simple ideas:
  1. Time.  Time is not something that we have a lot of, regardless of our profession and the work we engage in.  But the ways we are able to use and organize our time might be one step towards providing more opportunities for professionals to connect and collaborate.
  2. School Day.  We should think about being flexible with our days and the time we have school.  Are we limiting ourselves because of our schedules?  Why can’t they be changed?  It is worth looking closely at the needs of children first, then see what opportunities become available.  I think this would offer professionals another lense to look at the work we do each day.
  3. Standards.  It is important to have standards and realistic ways that we can measure our growth as professionals.  This is critical for reflection and next steps.  When we are observed once a year or every few years, how does this help professionals sustain their work and grow?  Are there other ideas that we can provide teachers, like stronger mentoring and time built into our days that allow, encourage, and support colleagueship and collaboration?

A bigger idea is the amount of time that teachers spend providing enriching learning opportunities for their students and families.  I am fortunate in my school district because I have strong leadership support for my own professional growth.  Without this support I would be limited in opportunities for engagement and growth.

A new campaign called TeachStrong wants to modernize and advance the teaching profession. I believe this needs to be done, because currently how many schools are not able to provide teachers the flexible time they need to grow and connect as professionals?  What are schools doing to support the growth of educators for a world that is changing fast and rapidly increasing technology?

I believe teaching is an art. It is something that evolves from our own dispositions and learning.  It evolves from our ideas that we are curious about and want to know and share.  

Learning needs to be available to all of our students.  Through our willingness to offer hope, invitations to learn alongside each other and solve problems, this can happen.  Lessons need to be global in nature and not limited to our classroom walls.  Social media and blogging are opportunities for this to happen.  Teachers need to learn alongside others who are involved in innovative and creative teaching where the focus is on learning, not the skills.  Skills and content are important, but our students need to connect with the content and grow to develop passions and interests in  what we are exploring.  How can this happen if educators are stuck inside their classroom walls, with schedules that are not what works best for students,?

A change is coming…it has to. Our students need us now more than ever.  We have opportunities to engage and use tools that will explore and reflect learning itself.  The heart of our work is with our students; how will we ensure to get at this work with longer days, inservice on top of an already 6-7 hour teaching day? The systems impacting the teaching profession needs to improve and advance to meet the needs of both students and teachers.


  1. Shouldn't we tackle the glaring segregation and inequity in school resourcing before we spend another 10 years tinkering with already busy teachers?