Do teachers really have a place at the table?

Can I just start by confessing that I have a newfound addiction to Twitter chats? I love the conversation, the diversity of opinions, and the richness of the dialogue. My colleague Brian Sztabnik (the co-creator of the amazing Talks with Teachers) and I begin a new Twitter chat last month, called #edugeekchat. Last night’s topic was the teacher leadership movement, inspired by this article on the US Department of Ed’s and NBPTS’s Teach to Lead Summits.

Guests included Dan Brown, director of Future Educators Association and former Teacher Ambassador Fellow (TAF), Maddie Fennell, Nebraska Teacher of the Year and current TAF, and Ross Brenneman, assistant editor of Ed Week Teacher. We even had a much appreciated guest expert pop in, Ruthanne Buck, senior advisor to Arne Duncan. Rich dialogue ensued, with a few themes emerging. The questions we centered our conversation around were:

  • Q1: Are you at the table or being served (on a plate)?
  • Q2: Describe a time you’ve been invited to be “at the table” as a teacher?
  • Q3: Pick a side: More successes in TL or more challenges? Why?
  • Q4: Name some issues where you wish teachers had more impact/voice.
  • Q5: What do you see as barriers to TL? How can we overcome?
  • Q6: What do you feel are some successes in TL?
  • Q7: What is your message to Arne (w Maddie and Ruthanne in the room)?

I’ll attaching the Storify version of the chat below, but the points that were repeated and really jumped out to me were:

  • We ARE making progress in teacher leadership.
  • There are MANY challenges in teacher leadership still, but these challenges end up evolving into goals and don’t remain as barriers for long (LOVE this point).
  • There is fear of and around teacher leadership.
  • We need more hybrid roles in teacher leadership.
  • We can’t pile more on our already busy teachers. Teacher leaders need time, space, compensation, and support from principals, districts, states, and the nation. We can’t burn out our great teacher leaders.
  • Teacher leaders and administrators are a great team in creating systems for student success. We are partners.
  • We can be our own worst enemies in teacher leadership. What can we do to change culture so there is a more positive system, where we can lift each other up and support one another in our work?

For the detailed and amazing chat, please visit the Storify version here. And thanks to all those who contributed to the wonderful conversation, pushing my thinking and the thinking of others.

 

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