Tricia Ebner, thank you for starting this roundtable conversation, and Jessica Cuthbertson, for continuing it.  Tricia wrote about the need for FOCUS, and Jessica added in LOVE.  You can read about their ideas here and here.  As CTQ shifts to more of this community-based writing philosophy for 2017, it caused me to think about my own contributions to teacher leadership.  The word that resonates most to me is UNIFY.

Our students succeed when we model what we want to become.  After a contentious election, and continued uncertainty about educational funding in my own state, I can think of no greater way to respond to difficult times than to UNIFY.

Share your ideas to Unify.
Teacher leadership is all about the process of coming together.  Whether you’re attending the upcoming teacherpowered conference, or you have shifted your school climate because of teacher-powered professional development, participants in such communities have already begun to come together with purpose.

Go online to Unify.
Since not all schools are an oasis of teacher voice and choice, maybe you are developing the ability to improve your students’ skills in the classroom through applying for microcredentials, or participating in online communities like #CTQCollab.  Maybe you have joined a Facebook group that leads you to action and ideas to try.  Such groups have also sprung up for political action since the election.  Your talent here is about responding to the challenge.  That phone call, that email to a legislator, and that thoughtful reply online to a collaborator matter, and can lead you to the next community, the next county, or across boundary lines to another country.

Reach across the hallway to Unify.
This is not just a call to reconnect with someone from the other side of the political debate.  It’s also a challenge to share your teaching tips with a colleague with which you don’t often connect, and listen to understand as ask for ideas in return.  While PLCs sometimes do this, often the meetings get caught up in announcements, procedures, or strategizing about specific students.  As individuals with a diverse set of interests, we often overlook the resources in our our building as we look to unify our students’ needs.

Call someone in your community to Unify.
Beyond the Bake Sale is just one of many tomes written to maximize the connection between schools, parents, and our community partners. Make a resolution to reach out to an expert that you have not considered before as a way to generate meaningful dialogue and an authentic audience for students to showcase their understanding.  Show your students that learning is not a closed shop, but a space for ongoing dialogue.

Unify suggests action and reteaching.  
Research suggests the best way to help students with adverse conditions in life is to be a caring adult in their world.  That’s easy when students are well-behaved and mannerly, but it’s absolutely necessary at those moments when students are tough to love.  Unify suggests we can try again, we can work through difficulties, we can believe in the possibility of tomorrow.  We all can use more of that.
If focus starts us on the journey to determine what sustains us, love helps us navigate the bumps and brusies that always accompany change.  By seeing efforts to unify others, we grow in strength for ourselves, but we also strengthen our connections and become more interdependent in the process.  That’s a great start.  What else are we missing in our #oneword2017 visions?


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