The Un-Conference was COLD! Being a kid from Florida although my roots are in New York (born there) I had trouble adjusting to the weather. When we got INSIDE, the “unconference” was transformational. It was a conference where the teacher leaders took control of the narrative by presenting on areas they felt adroit to pontificate on. As we came to realize that it is us – not the coordinators who would be presenting the atmosphere in the room immediately shifted. Empowerment permeated through those walls as teacher leaders had segments of time to present on various modes of inquiry and hear feedback from their colleagues.
I was struck by the myriad of conversations taking place at the same time in the same space. People were valuing and validating each other, what a dynamic environment! I was particularly pleased to have educators from Boston share their experiences as regionally their systems of education may vary. I found out that in Boston many other their teachers are deeply engaged in the political process something that you don’t see in Florida with the same amount of vigor. These teachers had on buttons to support a public school bill that was being considered. From what I understood the bill was “pro-public” and in a way “anti-charter.” It was the same battle that many public vs. charter districts face in terms of the charter siphoning monies from well-meaning public schools. These teachers were more overt than I’ve seen in Florida. In my experiences, wearing buttons and vocally expressing your point of view in the confines of the school building would more than likely not be encouraged.
We then had an opportunity to participate in site visits in the Boston area. We visited the most exquisite school I had ever seen. The principal was engaged, the teachers excited, and the students responsive. You witnessed a dynamic that represents a common thread that a plethora of schools would enjoy actualizing but for some reason or another struggle to do.
The school was in an area that was picturesque with lighthouses, winding roads, and sparkling rivers on the way to the school. We did witness an aspect of teacher leadership in that you could observe the principal had a healthy respect for teacher voice. He spoke about allowing his teachers to extend their ideas into the classroom as long as it was what’s best for kids. His leadership was the precursor for that school’s success. He truly cared about his teachers and sat on the floor with Kindergartners to read stories!
- Purpose: I chose to include this artifact because it represented a shift in my thinking about what my project could really help to communicate. The “Un-Conference” was a display of how powerful outcomes can be if teachers were empowered to exercise their voices to express thoughts and ideas that they were knowledgeable and passionate about.
- Teacher Fellow Competency: This related to my growth as a teacher leader because I was able to adopt strategies from this “un-conference” with teachers at my school to promote teacher voice. This artifact stood out as a dynamic memory in my mind because after going to Boston it reinvigorated what I already knew I had the capacity to achieve. Prior to Boston, I had some apprehension about perceptions and attitudes that teachers may have had even about the confidence in their own knowledge as educators. It was in Boston that I realized that as a teacher leader I could be that catalyst to help bring teachers to this understanding.
- Skills/Connection: This artifact is representative of a time when I was given the power to speak powerfully on the topic of teacher voice. As discussed in my post, we were able to visit a school and converse about the components that made that school demonstrate powerful outcomes in student achievement. The principal shared with us about the attributes the contributed to this success which included allowing ample time for teachers to converse and be reflective of their own practice.