I can haz think tank!

First off: I owe a huge debt of gratitude to CTQ and the Teacher Leaders Network.  Three years ago, I got a phone call from Melissa Rasberry, asking if I would be one of the two “grey beards” on a team of young teacher leaders in the San Francisco Bay Area.  During that year as a member of the Bay Area New Millennium Initiative (NMI), I experienced something profound and profoundly powerful: teachers voices driving educational policy and school reform.  After a year and a half, our NMI  group presented our proposal to California’s effective teaching taskforce and as a result, it looks like there will be a teacher-leader credential in California in coming years.

Second off: I owe a huge debt of gratitude to the California Teachers’ Association Institute for Teaching (IfT).  It was Dick Gale, the manager of the IfT, who first put me in contact with CTQ.  After about six amazing months of working with CTQ’s Bay Area New Millennium Initiative,  I brought up the idea of teacher led think tanks with Dick over lunch.  I pitched the idea that California’s union should sponsor groups of teachers to gather and work on educational policy and school reform issues.  After about of year of conversations, plans, and organizing CTA launched eight Teacher Think Tanks in California.  I’m happy to be a member of the East Bay think tank.

Improving Skills: After my first year, CTQ invited me to train as a virtual community organizer.  Over the course of the summer, I learned how to manage and moderate on-line discussion groups.  Additionally, CTQ offered me a job to write for their then-soon-to-launch group blog.

This amazing and wonderful journey now leads me to Great Oakland Public Schools.  Last year, we entered a conversation about putting together a group similar to the groups I’ve participated in with CTQ and CTA.  In August, they offered me the part-time job of manager of teacher leadership, charging me with the formation of an Oakland Teacher Policy Fellows.  In November, we launched the application process.  Last Friday, we selected our fourteen Oakland Policy Fellows.

I Can Haz Think Tank! 

This is the first time I’ve gotten the opportunity to lead a group such as this, and I am very excited.  We’ve got a great group of teachers.  Together, the Oakland Policy Fellows represent our city’s public and charter schools, elementary, middle, and high schools.  Ethnically and gender wise, we reflect the larger teaching force in the city.

I can wait for this weekend–which rapidly approaches.  By lunchtime tomorrow, our group will decide on our policy topic for the year and launch our journey of research, discussion, synthesis, communication, and action.