My name Is John, and I am a somethingpreneur

My name is ___________ I am a ____________. I have worked in a classroom for a number of years. I have proven credibility and expertise as an educator. I am a National Board Certified Teacher. I have developed myself professionally through designing and presenting NBC support, mentoring colleagues both in my building and virtually. I […]

My name is ___________ I am a ____________. I have worked in a classroom for a number of years. I have proven credibility and expertise as an educator. I am a National Board Certified Teacher. I have developed myself professionally through designing and presenting NBC support, mentoring colleagues both in my building and virtually. I led and moderated an online community of accomplished teachers. I have embraced 21st century tools in and out of the classroom. I am a doctoral candidate in education. I have worked as a paid consultant because of my area of expertise, education policy. I have worked to support teacher leadership at every turn, doing my best to form strong relationships with other educators with similar visions for the teaching profession. I was occasionally paid for some of these endeavors but not all. I am a _____. My name is… not John Holland.

Actually it is but, it could be Nancy Flanagan. Everything that I wrote above is true about myself and Nancy. Truthfully, Nancy is a major hero of mine. She is a shining example of a teacher leader. She is in a new phase of her career. She is a teacher leadership development consultant. Her mission statement includes the sentence below.

A social entrepreneur is motivated by a desire to help, improve and transform socialenvironmentaleducational and economic conditions. Key traits and characteristics of highly effective social entrepreneurs include ambition and a lack of acceptance of the status quo or accepting the world “as it is”. The social entrepreneur is driven by an emotional desire to address some of the big social and economic conditions in the world, for example, poverty and educational deprivation, rather than by the desire for profit. Social entrepreneurs seek to develop innovative solutions to global problems that can be copied by others to enact change.[5]

Social entrepreneurs act within a market aiming to create social value through the improvement of goods and services offered to the community. Their main aim is to help offer a better service improving the community as a whole and are predominately run as non profit schemes. Zahra et al. (2009: 519) said that “social entrepreneurs make significant and diverse contributions to their communities and societies, adopting business models to offer creative solutions to complex and persistent social problems”.

I think we are both well aware of the potential for good and bad consequences intended or not of any educational idea. From the career and technical education movement which became tracking, to the invention of charter schools, some of which were born from teachers lounges where strong educators decided they could do it better. There is always the possibility for harm. Even the idea of the National Boards, which I am sure we both can agree, is a pretty good idea, has its draw backs. The National Board has pushed an agenda that acknowledges that some teachers are “accomplished” and others aren’t. In making this differentiation it has driven a wedge into the profession that those trying to weaken it are jamming with value added measures and dirty political dealingsbased on the myth of the bad teacher. That is why I am hoping that when all is said and done, no matter what we call it, that teacherpreneurs can be a real policy and quality lever and not just an idea.

In fact, within the concept of teacherperneur, I find NBCTs to be the prototype, at least where I am from. When I set out to do National Boards I did it for several reasons.

  1. The drive a la Daniel Pink for mastery of my profession
  2. The drive to serve a greater purpose by enhancing my credibility in order to be considered an expert and become able to positively influence education for all students and teachers.
  3. The drive to become a more autonomous professional who is given the opportunity to spread my expertise.

To me these are all good reasons to do National Board. But there is one more. At the time there was a $2500 stipend issued by my state for each year I worked with kids. Plus a $2500 dollar bonus on certification. There was also a 5% increase from my school division for the life of my certificate. Did I do it for the money? No, but I was “Not Afraid to Get Paid” as Renee Moore has said.

You know Nancy, I consider you one of the people I can count on in this world to give the advice I need to hear, instead of what I want to hear. I love you for that. So, here is the response you need to hear, whether or not it is the one you want to hear.

I look at the list below and see that many of the ideas on the left side are ideas you have fought aggressively, and rightly so, for years.  None of them have anything to do with teacherpreneurs.

What teacherpreneurism is not… What teacherpreneurism is…
  • A merit pay scheme.
  • A value-added teacher evaluation model.
  • A charter school scheme in which teachers are paid better for teaching better.
  • Anything to do with standardized test scores.
  • Teach for America
  • Personal gain on the backs of student
 

  • A way for accomplished teachers to remain in the classroom.
  • A way to add value to the educational system through spreading expertise.
  • A way for good teachers to be paid for what they do outside of the classroom, not in it.
  • Acknowledges the importance of accomplished teaching as a prerequisite to effective change.
  • A lever to help teachers make the stories and experiences of their students, schools, and communities, an important part of educational policy making.

Last year I decided I had to leave the classroom to become a Child Development Specialist in order to maximize my ability to spread my expertise as well as for the challenge of mastery, autonomy, and purpose inherent in the new position. Every single day I question if I made the right decision. I hope it was right in the long run but, what if I didn’t have to make that decision.

Nancy, I know you were incredibly disappointed when you realized that most educational policy is written by recently graduated, public policy majors and that the only teachers at the table were tokens. What if there was a way for teachers, real teachers, accomplished teachers, (lots of them!) to write that policy and continue to stand with a classroom, a school, or a community? That person would have to be something different than a teacher. That person would be a…a…a….(sorry, a little sputtering) “something”preneur.

I would love to have that opportunity. Call me whatever you want.