Earlier this spring, Leading Educators took four Fellows to the Elevating and Celebrating Effective Teaching and Teachers (ECET2) Conference to share their experiences of teacher-leadership development with other educators from around the country.
Our two Fellows from New Orleans were struck by the powerful work going on all over the US. In their own words:
"The most significant thing that I learned was that we are not alone! The educational challenges are real and there are like-minded people across this nation who are striving for the best for our children. This conference also made me realize how much we do not collaborate in our city or our state. There is so much competition that if it were not for LE, we would all be on our own little charter islands. We must collaborate because two heads are so much better than one and this battle cannot be won alone.
As I move into a new school and new role it will be vital for me to create new relationships and also hold onto old ones, connections between schools must be made, even if a true district does not exist. We can build great ideas together and share triumphs in order to optimize time and increase student achievement. We are ONE!"
-Bridget Burns, a Director of Curriculum and Instruction in Cohort 2011
"I learned that many teachers and schools around the country are working towards perfecting planning and implementations around the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). I had conversations around the many tools schools are using (i.e. the Literacy Design Collaborative) in order to get students to dig in deep with the texts and content they are studying. Additionally, the sheer collaboration and willingness to share resources, ideas, and tools was inspiring. Teachers around the country who are doing it well want to share with those who are further behind in the spirit of student achievement.
I will bring from the conference a deeper awareness of the CCSS and will be able to explain the reasoning for these standards. I feel I will also be able to advocate for training and resources for teachers around these instructional shifts because I have talked to and witnessed teachers implementing them successfully, specifically in the upper grades.
It was humbling to be surrounded by teachers who have been teaching 15, 20, and even 30 years, a landscape that is increasingly disappearing in New Orleans. These teachers are still perfecting their craft in front of students on a daily basis while they are also able to serve as teacher-leaders. They mentor by example to interns, student teachers, and other veteran teachers. They are tapped to lead professional developments and attend conferences such as ECET2. The experience reaffirmed that I don't need to step out of the classroom in order to lead."
—Danielle Bienville, a Master Teacher of First Grade in New Orleans Cohort 2011