Three Back to School Resolutions For Teacher Leaders

This year my “classroom” is housed on my computer and in my car trunk. But the anticipatory back to school butterflies remain nonetheless. 

To prepare for this school year, instead of co-creating a class contract with students, I’m sharing three back to school resolutions for teacher leaders.

It’s that time of year again — at certain hours fall is starting to feel just a few degrees away. Time to load up new backpacks with “bouquets of freshly sharpened pencils.” (And time to sanitize keyboards in 1:1 classrooms).

It’s time to start a new school year.

I observed the first day of school this year by looking through windows and down hallways of other teachers’ classrooms. My own out-of-pocket supplies and Young Adult library is gathering dust in a corner of my basement.

This year, instead of awkward adolescents, I’m facilitating a cohort of adults. Twenty K-12 teachers from across content areas and learning communities are voluntarily piloting Aurora Public School’s first cohort of the Teacher Leadership Academy. Over the course of this school year, each teacher will create an individual leadership plan, develop a learning lab classroom where they deprivatize their practice through videotaping lessons and hosting visitors virtually and in real time, and evolve into a community of practice through blended learning experiences.

So, my “classroom” is housed on my computer and in my car trunk. But the anticipatory back to school butterflies remain nonetheless.

To prepare for this school year, instead of co-creating a class contract with students, I’m sharing three back to school resolutions:

  • Be as vulnerable as possible. One of my favorite summer professional reads was Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly. An extension of the author’s TED Talk, the book is a balance of research and storytelling that supports a leadership manifesto grounded in embracing vulnerability. I found vulnerability to be one of the most powerful teaching and learning tools in the classroom, and I hope to model vulnerability with teacher leaders who are in various phases of launching their own leadership journeys. Through taking risks in my practice, asking probing questions, and reflecting publicly and often, I will practice embracing vulnerability and affirm that each teacher leader is exactly where he or she is supposed to be.

  • Talk Less, Listen More. To truly support others in going public with their practice, I want to hone my coaching and active listening skills and commit to speaking less and listening more. In the classroom I had to vigilantly monitor my wait time with students and learn to push past an awkward silence to honor critical thinking and a range of processing speeds. Similarly, I know I will need to lean in and listen deeply in order to surface fears, uncover strengths, and support critical reflection for others. Going public with our practice requires us to talk out loud about why we do what we do. Being able to verbalize my beliefs and core values was a professional gift that coaches and mentor gave to me, and an experience I want to pay forward. I plan to metacognitively monitor my own listening behaviors by using Elena Aguilar’s “Listening To Your Own Listening” coaching tool.

  • Document the journey. While I want to continue to blog and write more regularly this school year, instead of sharing insights from my own classroom, I hope to document other teacher leaders’ stories, strengths, struggles, and nagging questions (with their permission of course!) Through lifting up teacher leaders’ aha’s and what ifs others will be inspired and spurred to action. Documenting a variety of teacher leadership stories will inform future cohorts and refine the experience, help hold me accountable to my listening resolution, and serve as a tangible artifact for the participants themselves.

What are your back to school resolutions? Write them down, share them with a colleague or your students, and revisit them as often as needed to revive that freshly sharpened pencil bouquet feeling that is the promise of a new school year.

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