Building a wall of teacher voices

By Skye Wilson

Skye Wilson, a policy assistant at CTQ, has been using her video-editing expertise to share teacher voices in an online video series. In this guest post, she describes her experience working with these teacher-submitted videos.

Relationships. AP scores. Graduation stoles. “Fast food” learners. Empowerment. Community partnerships.

These are a few of the topics broached by teacher leaders highlighted in our CTQTube series. The series, which runs until mid-November, features Teacher Wall submissions from teachers in CTQ’s Teacher Leaders Network (TLN).

The Teacher Wall Project is a virtual teacher town square where educators can share video clips and comments. It was built by Scholastic, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and DonorsChoose.org as a way to elevate teacher leaders’ perspectives on their profession. The CTQTube series is a microcosm of the Teacher Wall, which has received hundreds of video responses.

The breadth of responses has been amazing. One aspect of the CTQTube submissions that has really stood out to me is that not a single teacher has listed a formal award as their “greatest succcess as a teacher” (a question the teachers were asked to respond to in their videos). These are Teachers of the Year, National Board Certified Teachers, Presidential Award recipients, and National Education Association Teachers of Excellence finalists.

Screen shot 2011-10-18 at 5.29.10 PMShannon C’de Baca talks about the value of student-teacher relationships.

Instead, they all chose student-centered measures as their shining moments. This reinforces what teacher Shannon C’de Baca says in her video: the relationships teachers have with students are more important than any specific program.

Building relationships is a common theme that arises in some form or another for all the teachers featured in our CTQTube series. A very clear example is Karen Van Duyn’s submission. In a creative twist on the assignment, Karen’s students put together their perspectives on why she teaches. It’s a fun video that sheds some light on her philosophy of student empowerment. The students seem to have really enjoyed the production process and looked critically at how their perspectives on their teachers shape how they learn.

Putting this series together has reminded me that while every classroom and every educator is different, the top educators do share one commonality: the genuine desire to foster relationships that allow students to tap into their unknown potential.

Screen shot 2011-10-18 at 5.40.22 PM
Karen Van Duyn and her students share reasons why she teaches.

Our nation has so many of these accomplished classroom practitioners who have so much untapped potential to lead school improvement efforts. Now is the time to make these expert teachers more visible to policymakers and the public. They can and must lead the way. There are only 18 years, 2 months, and 12 days until 2030. We have a lot more work to do to “blur the lines of distinction between those who teach in schools and those who lead them.” 

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