From my very first year teaching, I was called a teacher-leader, but I didn’t know what that really meant until probably the last year or so.
For the last year I’ve seen the amazing #connectedtl Twitter chat but Tuesday nights have quite literally always been busy since September of 2015 – between classes I was taking for my Admin credential and classes I was teaching for Fresno Pacific in the past year. But last night as I was putting my 16 month old daughter to sleep between 7-7:30pm I saw some posts that compelled me to respond. Specifically, this one from Matt Vaudry:
A1: #connectedtl A-Ha from 2015: Anybody can be a Teacher Leader. I’ve met: Dept Head Coach TOSA Admin D.O. Staff Para-Educator
— Matt Vaudrey (@MrVaudrey) January 6, 2016
I responded in kind that teachers who work for Ed Tech companies can still be leaders too. If everyone left that wouldn’t be good, but I feel that once you’ve taught for at least 5 years or so to really know the day-in, day-out of teaching, you can be an excellent resource for an ed tech company. I am fortunate that my company, OpenEd, actually encourages me to be as active in the teaching and conference community as I can. I have grown SO much as an educator and leader working for OpenEd it’s hard to quantify – technical skills for sure, communication and collaboration, being able to see a much bigger perspective, and more. Most important for me personally has been a renewed focus on thoughtfulness. I see things from a classroom teacher view but also from a system-wide view since every day I talk to teachers across the US and even the world. When I talk about educational resources now, I’m referencing every textbook, video, game, manipulative and any other resource a teacher might use in their classroom to teach or learn.
As I was writing this I came across a post by one favorite blogger of 2015, Ross Cooper on how to be a teacher leader. I strongly agree with his points. From my experiences in Fresno Unified, ALL teachers have something to contribute, the key is to finding platforms that everyone feels comfortable speaking up. Technology is not always the answer for that.
It was someone I consider to be a mentor and a friend Will Kimbley who first really encouraged me to share what I was doing in and out of the classroom with a wider audience via CUE Rockstar camps in 2012; since then I’ve tried to share more and more. I often feel like I’m not knowledgeable or experienced enough to speak on a particular topic. What I’ve learned, is that even sharing just what I’m doing on a day to day basis can be encouraging and thus helpful for another teacher. It is through the sharing of experiences that we learn, and lead.