Colorado teacher Alex Rossi didn’t feel like she had much of a voice–until teachers at her school partnered with community members to seek out a life-changing grant for students at her school.

One thing we always wish we had more of is time–not to mention a say in how it is spent in our jobs.

Evidence shows various methods and changes in the daily school schedule can improve outcomes for students–but few people seem to be listening seriously.

I sometimes ask myself: How can teachers be a part in pushing forward change in our U.S. educational system? I’ve had many experiences, read many articles, and had many conversations with other teachers about changing things–but many of us don’t feel like we have a strong enough voice to advance change!

But I believe that classroom teachers’ expertise makes all the difference in the world for students.Teachers know their students best–and it is our responsibility to advocate for their interests. I believe in the power of change because I’ve seen it happen. When I decided to take a stand for my students and speak up for their needs, I found myself living the change.

I am currently teaching in a Title 1 school that has had it share of academic struggles. Our school was in need of a change, and with support from teachers and community members, we applied for a federal grant to extend our day to help close both the academic and opportunity gap.

The Extended Time Grant expanded the school day to fit the needs of the whole child by providing more time for teacher collaboration and planning across content and grade level. The grant also provided breakfast and snacks each day, as well as new enrichment classes every six weeks. These classes were created collaboratively by teachers, community members, parents, and students.

This grant became a reality thanks to our parents, staff, students, and community. It was truly powerful to watch these changes come into creation–and see them thrive today— having just $10,000 to start with. We’re now in year two of implementation, and this grant has demonstrated how teachers’ voices, along with the community, can make a difference.

So how can we make teachers’ voices stronger in the United States so they can lead how schools and policy are structured?

It starts with the little things. One easy step is to take the time to learn about new models:

  • Check out this infographic with resources about more and better learning time, sample school schedules, and more;

  • Share the infographic with your colleagues and have a meeting about what a reimagined school schedule would look like; and

  • Pitch the idea to your principal and share it at a PTA meeting.

Join me and share your story about how you made a difference in your school’s schedule or some other factor that helped you improve outcomes for the whole child.

Alexandra Rossi has been teaching for the last nine years. She currently teaches at Pennington Elementary in Wheat Ridge, CO. Her passions are teaching and technology, and she has received the Friedman Grant for 1:1 iPads for the last three years.

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