The Collaboratory recently turned three, and as part of the celebration, we were invited to share three spaces that have inspired us in our teacher leadership journeys. Admittedly I didn’t stick with three, but in writing about these spaces, I realized these spaces connected me with something even more important.

Happy birthday, Collaboratory! I appreciate this space and CTQ so very much!

The question, “What are three spaces that provide you with inspiration to lead in the teaching profession” sparked my thinking. Ultimately, these are the spaces that inspire me:

1. My classroom, when it is filled with students who are looking to me to make a difference in their educational lives. As a teacher of gifted for twenty years, I have repeatedly seen that having teachers who understand the characteristics of gifted and the nuances of how those can present in children is valuable and important. I’ve also seen that teachers want to do their best by all student populations. So my first inspiration to lead came from my students, so that I could help them by helping their teachers grow in their understanding of gifted students’ strengths and needs.

2. Conferences, just about any that I’ve attended, but the one that has most inspired my teacher leadership journey has been National Board’s Teaching & Learning. I attended my first one two years ago, my second last year, and was so disappointed I couldn’t get there this year. That first conference lit the fuse on something I didn’t even know existed within me. The people I met and the sessions I attended all valued me, my voice, and my experiences. (This is also where I first learned of CTQ and the Collaboratory!)

3. The spaces where I am working with the educator leader cadre from my state (whether that’s physical space meeting together or virtually, through email, FaceTime, etc). These educators come from across our state and serve in a variety of roles. They have always viewed me as a leader, even when I first started working with them and felt a little bit like the brand-new kindergartner.

4. The Collaboratory: This space has been instrumental for me, too. The connections I’ve made and the kinds of reflection I’ve been challenged to do have all made me a stronger teacher and teacher leader.

This isn’t to say there aren’t lots of other spaces that inspire me, and I hope I haven’t offended anyone by not naming a space we’ve occupied together. They’ve all been important spaces.

One common feature of all these spaces (and the others I haven’t named here): The space is important, but the people I’ve interacted with have had even more to do with my journey into teacher leadership. If the spaces didn’t exist, though, then meeting these people may have been much more difficult.

So as the Collaboratory celebrates its third birthday, I am grateful for these spaces, and I want to say thank you to all who have inspired me to get into these spaces and build the relationships that have transformed my career.

Now I’m off to go find a piece of cake for this birthday celebration!


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