As I prepare to say goodbye to my 8th graders and close one professional chapter in order to plan for a new role next school year, I reflect on the benefits of teacherpreneurism and share my hopes for scaling teacher leadership in my school district. This post is written with deep gratitude for my CTQ Family: thank you for helping me spread my teacher leader wings, and for working tirelessly to reframe public education, so that teachers are viewed as the solution and lead experts to a more just and equitable system that serves all students.
Epilogue — Reflections on Teacherpreneurism
In less than a week I will complete my third (and final) year as a CTQ Teacherpreneur. I will finish one professional chapter and prepare to transition into a new role.
Here’s what I’ll miss most:
- Leading Without Leaving: The best part about working in a hybrid role is the opportunity to teach and lead simultaneously. Looping with the same group of students for three years helped me blur the lines between classroom teaching, advocacy and policy work, family partnerships, professional learning and instructional coaching. Beginning each day with students grounded me in the purpose of public education and fed by teacher soul. Opening my classroom doors helped me improve my practice, bolstered my credibility, and allowed me to lead from the inside out.
- Virtual Connections & Partnerships: While I plan on continuing to nurture and grow my professional learning network, serving as a teacherpreneur provided time and space to connect with colleagues across the nation and Twitterverse. Collaborating with passionate educators through social media and digital environments provided a safe place to reflect, refine, and problem solve. It also allowed for connections with other education stakeholders, organizations, and advocacy groups on a regular basis, which expanded my perspective of what it means to be a teacher leader.
- Having a Homebase: At the same time, I had the security of having a “homebase.” Being a part of a school culture and community helped me feel connected in ways that virtual collaboration cannot (yet) match. I will miss the quiet in classroom 214 early in the morning before the first bus arrives. I will miss the hustle and bustle, the hugs and hilarious one-liners, of boisterous adolescents in the hallways during passing period. Most of all, I will miss the staff, families, and students of Vista PEAK Exploratory.
The growth mindset girl deep within me feels that the time is right. I’m sending my 8th graders to high school. I’ve balanced two roles in two spaces and have grown increasingly more comfortable and confident in my teacher leader skin. I’ve made tough decisions about what to take on and what to let go.
Foreword (& Onward!)—Scaling Teacher Leadership
And now it’s time to let go. To send my students on to high school and to say goodbye to life as a teacherpreneur. It’s time to settle in and focus, to continue developing as a teacher leader, but more importantly, to support the development of other teacher leaders. To build capacity. To tell other teacher leaders who want to teach and lead that they can. And that they need not do this work alone.
Next year I am working full time as a “Teacher Leadership TOSA” (Teacher on Special Assignment) in my school district.
Here’s what I’m jazzed about:
- Paying it Forward: I’m excited to facilitate the development of teacher leaders in my district. My goal is to recruit, retain, and support passionate teacher leaders and help them build their own learning lab classrooms. I want to “pay it forward” by mentoring National Board candidates and advocating for a career lattice of options for teacher leaders — so that they can teach and lead.
- Focusing: Juggling classroom teaching and teacher leadership initiatives is tricky work that requires a split schedule. I’m looking forward to focusing on growing a cadre of emerging and established teacher leaders and scaling the concept of teacher leadership. I’m relieved to bring 100% of my energy to this goal, instead of guiltily dividing my time between classroom teaching and teacher leader development.
- Figuring It Out: Mostly, I’m looking forward to providing agentive opportunities for teacher leaders to figure it out for themselves — from designing and evaluating their own professional learning structures, to crafting a teacher leadership plan, pathway, and possible destination. I can’t wait to champion reflection and push and nudge teachers outside of their comfort zone, knowing firsthand that each risk they take will pay dividends in student learning.
This quarter my students read Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, and I read it alongside them for perhaps the sixth (and certainly not the last) time. It was bittersweet to turn the final page in the text and to reach the end of this professional chapter in my life.
My blog is called In a Teacher’s Shoes and I’ve been wondering about how I will stay grounded in these shoes as I transition into a support role and pack up my classroom.
I can’t help but hear the words Harper Lee penned for Atticus Finch play over and over in my mind: “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”
Teachers — this is my promise to you — to consider work from your point of view and to walk alongside you in your leadership journey.