”Few teachers have opportunities for professional growth while remaining employed as teachers. Teachers should not have to leave the classroom in order to advance their careers if they prefer to continue teaching or are especially talented within the classroom.” – TeachStrong Campaign
Yikes ~ I haven’t made time to blog lately and my brain is full of ideas and connections! Zack’s parents, two sets of aunts and uncles, and a cousin and her boyfriend joined us for Thanksgiving. It was wonderful to have a house full of conversation and laughter. Being a caregiver can be lonely, especially when your husband has apraxia and aphasia. Side note: His progress is amazing. This morning we read a Facebook message from his childhood friend, Adam. Adam wrote: Thank you for all of the wonderful updates. You are clearly a remarkable woman. I miss Zack.
Zack smirked and said, “You have a wonderful husband.” Five words. Eight syllables. Most with beginning sounds. All comprehensible. And witty to boot!
Part of what made Thanksgiving week so fun is that there were always people without apraxia and aphasia around. Zack always had conversations to listen to, and I had multiple conversations to follow and chime in on. Even though Zack didn’t have speech therapy on his usual days, he had plenty of practice and encouragement in real world situations.
It is this kind of support and training that teacher leaders sometimes don’t get. When I’m not on leave, I work at a school whose mission statement includes the word “teamwork.” Grade level teams have built-in, guaranteed common planning time every day. When vacancies arise, the existing team members are full participants in the hiring/interview process. Discipline problems in your classroom? Talk about it with your Professional Learning Community. Formative assessment results? Plan your next steps with your PLC. Literacy instruction falling flat this week? Brainstorm solutions with your PLC. The grade level team I worked with last year knows we are lucky to work at a school with a built-in support network and an administration that believes in us.
But what happens when they are not enough? How can teacher leaders learn more, grow further, and become stronger leaders without leaving the classroom? For me, being connected to educators around the world via twitter and around the country on Voxer has been the answer. Even though I am a school volunteer this year, I have had more in-depth conversations about educational leadership, bringing joy to schools, makerspace, white space, and effective professional development because of the connections I’ve made on Twitter and Voxer. The curriculum for the administration and leadership master’s program I’m in fulfills the administrator license credentials but the insight, honesty, and sharing that happens within the Professional Learning Networks I’ve built online is the encouragement and education I need on a day to day basis. Being connected – in all aspects of our lives – is so important for learning, growth and happiness.