Changing Perspectives: How I Define Myself as a Teacher Leader

Changing Perspectives: How I Define Myself As A Teacher Leader

By: Misael Gonzalez, High School English Language Arts teacher, Miami, Florida

In many ways, my definition of teacher leadership was shaped by dramatized Hollywood portrayals of real accounts: a heroic singular leader fighting the system to make a change, a school in a “rough part of town” with a high minority-student population, and a challenge that had been thought a lost cause by everyone else I have come to realize that teacher leadership is not a case of catching lighting in a bottle. Through research, reading, and learning in my doctoral program, I’ve come to understand teacher leadership relies on collaborative efforts in and out of the classroom, requires a unique set of skills, and needs the right culture to truly grow. Here is what I’ve learned:

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The Power Moves to Retain Teachers Amid the Pandemic

The Power Moves to Retain Teachers Amid the Pandemic

By: Neven Holland, Treadwell Elementary, Memphis-Shelby County Schools (MSCS), Tennessee

“It’s the difficulty that keeps me here. It’s the opportunity to give my students in an underserved neighborhood with limited resources the high-quality teachers they deserve,” says my teacher colleague Armani Alexander. Despite all the difficulties of pandemic teaching, there is still this culture to grit and grind like our hometown Memphis Grizzlies in the profession we love with respect and knowledge of our urban community (Emdin, 2016).

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A Legacy of Educators

A Legacy Of Educators

By: Cathy Coachman Wanza

After Emancipation, formerly enslaved people had to make new lives for themselves in a world that was new to them in some respects. For too many of them, their new lives were much like their old: working for next to nothing on someone else’s farm or plantation. Some moved North for better opportunities, but regardless of locale, it became apparent that education was the only way to truly free oneself and ensure subsequent generations of better lives. This mindset became the mantra for many African-Americans in the early to mid-20th Century.

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Mentoring in the Time of COVID

blog: mentoring in the time of COVID

By Catherine López, M.A., M.Ed., LDT, CALT,  Certified Academic Language Therapist and Bilingual Content Interventionist working for the Austin Independent School District

Quality mentoring programs are more necessary than ever. Attracting and retaining new teachers has gone from being a serious problem to an acute crisis. Districts that seek to curb attrition rates in their ranks need structured programs that can help fledgling teachers during the first two to three years of their career. 

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Top Five Takeaways for Supporting Teacher Leadership

By Meghan Everette, School Ambassador Fellow

Research shows that teachers who identify as leaders are more likely to stay in the profession longer and have a greater impact on student achievement. Teacher turnover and shortages in certain subjects and geographic areas have been an ongoing concern, and there are fears this shortage will continue to spread throughout the country. Recruiting more teachers can’t offset turnover alone, so retaining teachers is important. We know the value of experienced teachers and districts saves money in onboarding and training costs when they are able to keep teachers in the profession. Teacher leadership fosters collaboration, excitement about the profession, increases teachers’ skills, and benefits communities. Donna Harris-Aikens, Senior Advisor for Policy and Planning, met with teacher leaders to talk about the kind of experiences that foster and support teacher leaders in the classroom and throughout their educator networks. Here are the top five takeaways from teachers across the country on engaging and supporting teacher leaders.

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A Letter to America’s Teachers

I never could predict what might happen in Mr. O’Neil’s art classes; I just knew I couldn’t wait for the next assignment.  Back then I didn’t realize all the ways this dynamic educator, a rare man of color leading our diverse classroom of second graders, was serving as a pioneer and role model for me and my peers in John Barry Elementary School.  But I’ll never forget how his teaching made me feel.  As a second grader, I remember looking up — watching him encourage, challenge and guide us – and thinking: “I want to be like him.”

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Honoring Teachers’ Commitment to Continual Improvement through Collaboration

Teacher Appreciation Week is one of my favorite times of the school year! Honoring the educators who spend countless hours creating lesson plans, building authentic relationships, and welcoming students into the learning space – whether it be in-person, online, or both – has been such a joy. I think back to my time growing up and fondly remember those who influenced me with their encouraging words, supportive nature, and praise of my efforts. My teachers, Ms. Pendergast, Mrs. Dixon, and Mr. Anderson were just three of many educators that left a lasting impression by showing me how much effort matters. I am grateful to them and to have this incredible opportunity to honor the efforts made by our nation’s teachers.

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The Pursuit of Education: A Story of Homelessness, Perseverance, and the Impact of Caring Educators

The pursuit of education: a story of homelessness, perseverance, and the impact of caring educators

By: Jahnee S.

I was 8 years old when I first experienced homelessness. Homelessness then became a struggle that my family and I couldn’t escape. I experienced standing in the snow, hoping my family and I had a place to sleep on a church floor; how packed and unsanitary emergency shelters are, as I got lice within two days of staying there; how “The Florida Project” brought me flashbacks to the many months my family lived in motels, and how I viewed peers with “the basic necessities” with such envy. Constantly moving and being disappointed led me to become extremely detached and avoid relationships of any kind out of fear of abandonment. Eight years later, at 16 years old, I was still experiencing homelessness. Though homelessness was not new to me, this experience as a 16-year-old was the most difficult because I was on my own without a family.

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An Ode to Poetry Month

an ode to poetry month

Plant the seeds of poetry and help your kids grow a love of rhymes, sonnets, ballads, and all forms of poetry. Inaugurated by the Academy of American Poets in 1996, National Poetry Month is now held every April, when schools, publishers, libraries, booksellers, and poets throughout the United States celebrate poetry and its vital place in American culture. This year marks the 25th anniversary of this annual celebration.

It’s easy to help kids of any age become aware of or deepen their appreciation of this literary art form. Memorize a favorite poem, organize a virtual poetry reading for your friends, or visit a poetry landmark such as a poet’s former residence or a place of inspiration to poets like the Brooklyn Bridge.

For Teens and Older Children

Introducing your child to poetry can start at any age! Here are a few activities and resources to help your teen or older children become more familiar with poetry.

Visit the Library of Congress’s Poetry 180 site: Designed for high school student to hear or read a poem every day of the school year, this is a great way to engage and encourage students to appreciate poetry. Encourage your teens to read poems aloud to you or each other. Ask what they did or didn’t like about a poem you read together.

Focus on specific themed-based poetry: The Library of Congress has materials devoted to certain themes, including immigration and migration, work and industry, and social change. Kids can sample poems from different themes and reflect on which theme interests them the most and why.

Start a poetry notebook: Encourage students to write poems of their own in different styles of poetry: rhymes, ballads, limericks, haikus, sonnets, or odes.

Go on a global exploration: EDSITEment explores poetry across the world in different cultures and lists various lessons and resources on poetry.

Go beyond Earth’s atmosphere to the stars: NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has an entire activity, Planetary Poetry, to help students learn about and understand poetry using STEM and NASA resources.

For Younger Children

It’s never too early to introduce your baby, preschooler, or younger child to poetry. Make it a playful learning experience. Get ideas for celebrating poetry with younger children from the following resources.

Enjoy nursery rhymes together: Babies, toddlers, preschoolers, and early readers can appreciate nursery rhymes read aloud or recited to them. Toddlers, preschoolers, and Kindergarteners also can enjoy repeating a simple rhyme and practicing memorizing it. Try talking about rhyme and rhythm—beat out a rhythm to a poem on a toy drum or a drum made from recycled materials. Draw pictures of favorite nursery rhyme scenes.

Explore nature on a science and poetry walk and learn about haiku: Spring is a great time to investigate the wonders of your backyard, neighborhood parks, or a nearby state or national park. Then try some haiku, which typically focuses on the natural world.

Pick up a book of children’s poems: Visit your local public or school library and check out books of children’s poems. During National Poetry Month, the librarians may set up a special display to showcase a selection of their favorite poetry books. At home read the poems aloud to your kids. Early readers might be able to read the poems or parts of the poems aloud to you.

Be a poet: Ask your child to make up a poem of his or her own or some rhyming lines. Children who can write may write it out themselves. For younger children, write it down for them—capture their original creations and record the date. Invite them to illustrate their poems, too.

Finding Teachable Moments on the Field and in the Classroom

This Sunday afternoon, the world will watch the 55th Super Bowl take place in Tampa Bay. While these football professionals play the last game of their season, high school coaches around the country are preparing for their next. Many of these coaches are tasked with balancing responsibilities as leaders on the field and as educators in the classroom. Among them is Chris Davidson of Ridge Community High School, about an hour outside of Tampa Bay .

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