Posted by Ann Byrd on Wednesday, 07/19/2017
As we launch our July and August blogging roundtable on the power of story, seasoned educator and skilled storyteller Jessica Keigan (@Teaching_Keigan) will co-lead the discussion with me. Our goal is to elevate educators’ voices by leading discussions about the power of stories to impact educators’ work both within and beyond the classroom. Jessica will draw on her own experiences inside and outside the classroom—and those of her fellow teacher leaders and bloggers—to explore how sharing stories can bring people together to transform the real-life narratives of students, educators, schools, and communities.
A longtime blogger for CTQ, Education Week Teacher, SmartBrief, and other local and national publications, Jessica believes passionately in—and advocates tirelessly for—the power of teacher voice. Considering her own trajectory as a storyteller, Jessica reflects, “I am a totally different teacher now than I was in 2010, the year when CTQ changed my professional life. I have learned to have confidence that my voice is worth hearing and that I am an expert in my field.”
“This has shaped how I interact with my peers as I work to celebrate different perspectives and to provide opportunities for other teachers from all levels of experience to have a similar confidence.”
Jessica is a veteran teacher with almost fifteen years of experience in education. She currently serves as an English language arts teacher and instructional coach at Horizon High School in Thornton, Colorado. According to Jessica, the practice of telling her own stories as a teacher blogger has shaped the way she teaches her students.
I have built writing experiences into my classroom that mirror the writing experiences I have had and have worked to include their voices in the conversations about their educational experience.
Outside the classroom, Jessica has leveraged local and national networks to refine her teaching practice and has taken advantage of a wide variety of leadership opportunities. “I love hearing and sharing teacher stories,” Jessica writes, “and am much more likely to seek the expertise of my peers than other groups who claim to have expertise on my profession.” In addition to CTQ, she credits the Denver Writing Project with helping shape her identity as a writer and prompting her to present her ideas in a public way. She has been active in groups including her district and state affiliate of the National Education Association, the Colorado Language Arts Society (a state affiliate of the NCTE), the Colorado Core Advocates network, and Learning Forward.
During the 2011-2012 school year, Jessica was a member of CTQ’s inaugural cohort of teacherpreneuers, which released her from the classroom half-time to support local and state-level issues of policy and practice. In her dual role, Jessica was able to pursue a variety of projects, including work with state legislators and the Colorado Department of Education on development of Colorado’s teacher evaluation system and student assessment tools. Two years later, in 2013-2014, Jessica was selected by The Master Teacher Project (a joint effort of BetterLesson and the National Education Association) to share her lesson plans and teaching strategies with teachers across the globe. This experience gave Jessica a chance to celebrate teacher-driven curriculum creation and teacher-led professional development.
We’re excited to see Jessica’s impact this summer as she brings educators together and facilitates conversations around their stories. At CTQ, we believe this important conversation—and all blogging roundtable discussions—highlight the power of storytelling to help educators build communities, exchange ideas, and ultimately co-construct lasting, positive systems change that benefits every student.