Hello Coop Catalyst friends! As it is my first post here, I will start with a brief introduction.
I started my teaching journey as a second grade teacher. It was a hard first year where I was hit with the realities of real life. Kids being abused, an absentee administration, standardized testing, the overwhelming feeling that I was a failure as a teacher. I almost convinced myself that I had chosen the wrong career path. Almost. I was a newlywed and we were still working to pay off school loans. I needed a job. I put my resume in at a local private school where I was interested in teaching. They only had one classroom teaching position open but I figured it was worth a shot. I got a call a few weeks later from the school office assistant, the classroom position had already been filled. She followed with, “I know it is a long shot but would you be interested in teaching in the computer lab?” I took the computer lab position to get my foot in the door at the school that seemed utopian (no standardized testing, Christian atmosphere, involved parents, a coffee bar). 6 years later I was still in the computer lab teaching kids (and teachers) how to learn with technology. Last year I had to leave the classroom and germ filled atmosphere for health reasons. This year I am working as a freelance educational consultant, writing, blogging, working on starting a school, and teaching a virtual class on digital storytelling.
As I work on the foundation of a new school model I find myself lying awake thinking most nights. Last night was no exception. As educators, we spend a lot of time working to help learners recognize their unique talents and gifts. I know that, even now, I think of students I worked with in my early years of teaching. I wonder how their passions have changed or been nurtured, I wonder what impact I may have had in guiding them, I dream about what their futures might hold. In a classroom there is a lot of focus on the students that we teach, as there should be. But it occurs to me that very little attention is paid to recognizing the unique talents and gifts of the staff that make up a school. In large part teachers are left to their own, seen only as a collection of test scores or yearly review. This has been true in my own experience, it is only after I left my school that the administration is starting to realize some of those unique gifts and talents…except now they have to pay an hourly consultant rate for them. If we truly want schools to become community of learners, we have to change this approach to the staff that makes up a school. We have to capitalize on the individual talents and strengths of each teacher, each administrator and specialist. This is how you build a dream team. This is how you create a true community of learners. Start looking at your colleagues the way you look at your students. Start looking for and recognizing your colleagues for the unique talents and gifts that they bring to the education/learning environment. Brag about your colleagues to students, parents, teachers, administration. Let others know about the members making up your dream team. Learn from one another. Be a community of learners.
*I have to be honest, it is a little intimidating to join the voices of Coop Catalyst. This blog co-op represents incredible writers, thinkers, and educators. I feel a little like the awkward middle schooler that just got invited to the cool kids table and isn’t sure how to keep up. I appreciate the invitation and the conversation!