Today is Valentine’s Day. To celebrate, let’s share love stories. I’ll start.

They encouraged me. They connected me to other teacher leaders. They opened doors to a staff lounge like no other.

Wait, you say. This doesn’t sound like a love story. Where’s the clichéd meet cute, the goofy chase, and the dramatic rescue? What about the part where everyone lives happily-ever-after? Okay. You’ve got me. All of that is missing. Certainly, the love stories I want to share aren’t traditional.  I contend that they are love stories, nevertheless.

These mini-stories are about a group of teacher leaders who found a community of solutions-minded peers who made a profound impact on their professional practice. What’s more, these stories capture what continues to happen in CTQ’s virtual community today: teachers connecting, growing, and unleashing what they’ve learned to create an equitable public school system that serves all students and their communities.

Now, if that’s not a perfect love story, then I don’t know what is.

A dozen published authors in our community recently shared the role CTQ played in the publication of their books.  Here are the highlights in their own words:


The impact of participating in a virtual community

Teachers in the CTQ community tell a similar story about how their participation in the community impacted their perspective.

“My book wouldn’t have happened without CTQ. I learned so much about teacher leadership from this community. CTQ gave me a set of personal and professional connections, a view of the education landscape, opportunities to develop and amplify my voice in education policy and leadership.” -David Cohen, English teacher, Palo Alto, California

“Participating in the forum discussions, blogging in the CTQ community, and participating in the Teaching 2030 team all helped me understand the education landscape, its issues, and how teachers are influencing it.”  -Ariel Sacks, English teacher, PLC Coach, blogger, New York

“Connecting with CTQ exposed me to a whole new world of thoughtful educators and eye-opening ideas. It broadened my perspective of what might be possible in the world of education and what my role could be.” -Larry Ferlazzo, teacher, Luther Burbank High School, Sacramento, California

“The teachers involved in CTQ are innovative in their pedagogy and wise in their awareness of policy. That makes for a powerful combination. As a result, the standards of those around me help push me and challenge me as well. The network of people I met through CTQ continuously support me, cheer for me, and inspire me.” -Heather Wolpert-Gawron, ELA teacher and TOSA specializing in PBL, California

The impact of writing publicly

CTQ encourages teachers to write. We are wiser when we listen to a teacher, and the teacher is wiser for having shared his or her experiences publicly.

“Being a part of the Teaching2030 project gave me insight into the book publishing process. Having editors within the Teaching2030 circle helped me become a better writer as well, and exposed me to a larger view of the teaching profession.” – Jose Vilson, math teacher and founder of EduColor, New York City

“CTQ encouraged me to blog and to write articles for Ed Week Teacher. It was one of those articles (on tips for new teachers) that attracted a publishing company and gave an editor the idea to call me. I truly believe without CTQ there would have been no book. In addition, CTQ enabled me to shape my convictions on education policy and to network with educators across the world. Not trying to be melodramatic, but CTQ really changed EVERYTHING!” – Cindi Risgbee, Regional Education Facilitator, NC Department of Public Instruction, 2009 NC Teacher of the Year

“I published my first article on visual note taking in the classroom for Ed Week Teacher, thanks to CTQ. That article led to a phone call from a publisher, wondering if I would be interested in writing a book about the topic. I was, and so I did!” – Wendi Pillars, ESL teacher and “brainchanger” in North Carolina

The impact of the support from others

“CTQ gave my STEM work visibility through publishing my blog posts in Ed Week Teacher. CTQ then cheered me on as I wrote and helped me publicize the book after writing it.” – Anne Jolly, STEM curriculum writer, blogger, consultant, and 1994 Alabama Teacher of the Year

“My editor and mentor was from CTQ. His help and guidance gave me confidence to write this story. Other CTQ teachers helped me on this journey and the professional work inspired me to push my own professional development far beyond what I could have done alone.” – Marsha Ratzel, eighth-grade science teacher, Kansas

“Both books highlight teachers from the CTQ community. They have been inspirations, editors, and examples. They have given direct feedback on drafts. I do not think I would have written either of my books without my connections to CTQ.” – Jon Eckert, Associate Professor, Wheaton College, Illinois

Your story

Share your CTQ love story with us. What role has this virtual community played in your work? How has writing impacted your growth, and where do you find the support that you need?

Today and everyday, share the love you have for the communities that bring you joy and hope and sustain the hard work you do to make a difference in the lives of children every day.

Books published by members of the CTQ community

Take a moment to browse the titles listed below. Your next great education read is only a click away…

David B. Cohen,  Capturing the Spark: Inspired Teaching, Thriving Schools
Capturing the Spark takes readers inside the classrooms of over 75 teachers to see inspired teaching and thriving schools up close. A program that works in one place will not necessarily work in another, and imitation is not in itself an improvement strategy. Cohen argues that all concerned stakeholders need to understand the underlying conditions that allow sparks to ignite growth and innovation in their school or district in order to foster change and improvement.

Jon Eckert,  The Novice Advantage: Fearless Practice for Every Teacher
Inspiring to teachers of all experience levels, this guide uses humor and insight to show how to teach with daring, while growing through risk, reflection, and revision.

Roxanna Elden,  See Me After Class: Advice for Teachers by Teachers
See Me After Class is a funny, honest, and practical guide with hundreds of tales and tips from experienced teachers around the country. Pull it out at lunch on a bad day, or Sunday night as you battle those six-more-hours-till-Monday stomach cramps. On their worst days, teachers need to know they’re not alone. (And then they need manageable steps to help them become a better teacher the next day.)

Larry Ferlazzo, Larry’s books
Larry’s publications include a “trilogy” on strategies to help students develop intrinsic motivation, three books on teaching English Language Learners, one on parent engagement, and another on classroom management.

Bill Ferriter,  Bill’s books
Bill – @plugusin on Twitter— is a sixth-grade science teacher in a professional learning community (PLC) near Raleigh, North Carolina. A National Board Certified Teacher, Bill has designed professional development courses for educators nationwide on topics ranging from establishing professional learning communities to integrating the Common Core State Standards into Science and Social Studies classrooms.

Anne Jolly, STEM by Design: Strategies and Activities for Grades 4-8
How do you create effective STEM classrooms that energize students, help them grow into creative thinkers and collaborators, and prepare them for life in a 21st-Century world? This practical book reveals the secrets to successful lessons in which students use science, math, and technology to engineer solutions to real-world problems.

Wendi Pillars,  Visual Note-taking for Educators: A Teacher’s Guide to Student Creativity
Do you wish your students would take notes that are meaningful and useful? Drawing on findings from neuroscience and Wendi’s firsthand experiences as a classroom teacher, this book shows you how to help your students discover new ways to retain information.

Marsha Ratzel,  Teaching in High Gear: Shift Towards a Student-Driven, Inquiry-Based Classroom
Moving from a teacher-centered to student-centered classroom involves lots of thought and determination. This book describes one woman’s journey to achieve that for her students.

Cindi Rigsbee,  Finding Mrs. Warne>Whole Novels For the Whole Class: A Student-Centered Approach
Finding Mrs. Warnecke not only tells the story of a teacher who made a lifelong impact on her students; it also illustrates the importance of the teacher/student relationship in the classroom, and offers principles other teachers can follow to make a positive impact in their own classrooms.

Ariel Sacks, Whole Novels For the Whole Class: A Student-Centered Approach
Whole Novels is a practical, field-tested guide to implementing a student-centered literature program that promotes critical thinking and literary understanding through the study of novels with middle-school students. Rather than using novels simply to teach basic literacy skills and comprehension strategies, Whole Novels approaches literature as art. 

José Vilson, This Is Not A Test: A New Narrative on Race, Class, and Education
José Vilson writes about race, class, and education through stories from the classroom and researched essays. His rise from rookie math teacher to prominent teacher leader takes a twist when he takes on education reform through his now-blocked eponymous blog, He calls for the reclaiming of the education profession while seeking social justice.

Heather Wolpert-Gawron,  Heather’s books
Her next book (Corwin, 2017) expands on a nationwide survey of sixth- through twelfth-graders Heather conducted, focused on the question, “What engages you as a learner?” No matter where they lived or what type of school they attended, students’ responses all fell under ten research-based strategies. The book combines research with implementation models for each strategy. It also features quotes from many students.




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