18 February 2015

We Don't Need Another Hero

Teachers don't need another hero,
but we do need teacher leaders. (Tina Turner photo)
"...Or you can close the door and subvert."

This was one of the options that was offered in my Methods of Teaching High School English class over a decade ago. It seemed like kind of a heroic option at the time, kind of romantic, being a maverick (before that became political code) doing what you believed in, status quo be...darned.

Truthfully, it might be a route I'd consider if I hadn't been empowered by becoming a department of one halfway through my career. I mean, I'm not above a little subversion here and there, don't get me wrong. But the closing the door. It's just not an option anymore.

I remember being a little freaked at the prospect of Bill Gates invading my classroom with galvanic bracelets on every kid to monitor engagement a few years back. I mean, dang! Let me do my job! On the other hand, I myself have all but required students to record me in action so they can use my target language instructions on e-portfolios. So Big Brother and I, we have a sort of on-again-off-again thing when it comes to my classroom.

But for teachers? Mi clase es su clase.

For those three years of National Board strife, what I wouldn't have given to see ONE NBCT language teacher in action--ONE! I was doing everything wrong, but I had no idea how to do it right! The last language teacher's class I got to sit in on then was one trying to show me how classroom management was done. Oh, her kids were quiet. Quiet and glassy-eyed going over conjugation drills.

So if anyone can learn from my mistakes--or my successes--take what you can and welcome!

Teachers need to be teacher leaders because sometimes we all need to be led. We need to help each other fill in the gaps, to understand what we're missing. We don't need some golden Freedom Writer who can do no wrong to light our way. We need to see how to get back up from people who HAVE gotten back up. It is as important to keep going, to lead by example for our colleagues as it is for our students. We are in the same boat, and we can count on people who are swabbing the same decks.

Now I have been fortunate to find a district where teacher leaders are recognized and offered opportunities to be more and do more--and to return the favor to their colleagues. How great is it to have an excuse to get together with some of the finest minds around to talk turkey and play with cool toys? But we don't just take our toys to our rooms and close the door. We gather tools that we can share with our students and our colleagues back home--and ideas on how to share them.

I personally am of the opinion that all teachers who care about the direction of education and the kids in front of us each day, we all must be teacher leaders. In fact, we must OPEN the door and subvert. We must share what works and how to make things better every chance we get! And we must do this not with guns a-blazing, but with open minds and open hearts. We must observe the needs we can see in our own schools and collect data to shed light on those needs--and listen before we propose plans of attack. We must share our successes and reflect on failures and be as open as possible about both!

In fact, we need to be like this dancing guy:

Teachers, we don't need another hero, but we do need to keep moving forward, and we need each other--we need dancing guys--to do it.

Leadership also means collaboration with great minds, and it was a privilege and a joy to work with other Pinnacle leaders @@thomasson_engl@jkylewood, and @JaclynLeaTant  (who needs to get on Twitter more) to answer Shark's questions!

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