Despite Oscar Wilde’s admonition that “good resolutions are simply checks that men draw on a bank where they have no account,” educators in the Teacher Leaders Network Forum willingly collaborated this week in a group writing activity—offering resolutions they hope might inspire the nation’s teacher leaders in 2009.
Nancy sets the tone with this call to action:
Grab the virtual microphone. We must stop waiting for others to recognize the value of teacher expertise in improving schools and policy, and stop believing that “they” don’t honor our contributions or pay attention to our great insights.
We live in an age when all of us can publish without having to shop articles around or please a publisher. We can launch our own virtual salons. All it takes to develop a public voice and dialogue is a computer—plus considered opinions, courage, and will. That courage and will—the belief that we have something important to share—is genuine teacher leadership.
Susan urges us to spread teacher leadership:
Share the limelight and the load. This is my personal resolution, and I would encourage other teacher leaders to join me. Invest more effort in discovering and nurturing the leadership potential around you. Too often the same teachers are asked over and over to take on leadership responsibility. But taking on too much can result in teacher burnout or diminished effectiveness in the classroom.
Our teacher perspective puts us in a position to identify untapped teacher leadership potential. We need to be developing many more leaders among us.
David agrees and also urges teachers to seize the day:
Susan is right. We need to cultivate future leaders, especially among our newest colleagues. It’s not only a matter of encouraging them to help lead, but encouraging them to expect leadership opportunities as part of the career, which is ultimately a step towards transforming our profession.
To add a thought of my own: I’d suggest we seize the occasion of a new year, new people in government, new ideas in the air, and all introduce ourselves to a local politician or policymaker. Offer your take on one or two priorities; offer your assistance in any education-related matters; invite these people to come see what we do.
Ariel reminds us to concentrate our energies on what matters most:
My resolution is the precursor to what Susan says about cultivating leadership in others, in place of always taking on every leadership opportunity that comes to us.
My resolution is to make a conscious effort not to spread myself too thin. I resolve to focus on one or two things at a time and to thoughtfully breathe life and passion into them. This approach will be more rewarding to me personally and professionally. It will allow me to have more of a positive effect on the things I choose to commit my energy to, rather than doing the minimum on a million and one things and feeling somewhat inadequate in all of them.
And Heather adds, “pick your battles”:
We need to pick our battles. As a teacher leader with a voice that is gaining momentum in my district, I have to recognize that with power comes responsibility. Make sure you only toss your abilities into those rings that are all about what is best for the student. Being a leader is about aiming your talents precisely and with knowledge, not just passion.
Laurie shifts the focus closer to home:
I plan to make a difference in 2009 in my own school. I will make a commitment to share my thoughts about education publicly. I will take a professional stand at department meetings when I feel we aren’t doing enough that will benefit our students. Most importantly, I’ll be pulling a chair up next to the quiet kids who may be silently struggling and saying, “Hey, what’s going on? Are you confused? Would you like me to help you?”
Gail shakes off the blues with new resolve:
Laurie, “make a difference” is so simple, yet so powerful. It reminds me of the Gandhi quote: Be the change you want to see in the world. That is my resolution for 2009—walk the walk, make a difference through words AND actions. I was feeling blue earlier today because winter vacation is drawing to a close. Now I’m inspired to go back to school and make a difference!
Cindi vows to trust what she knows:
I would tell teacher leaders to trust themselves. It’s my resolution to trust that the 30 years I have been in education have given me the information I need to impact education policy. I have to trust that what I have to say is valuable because I have been in those classrooms with those kids and I know the deal! At the same time, I want to encourage beginning teachers (and shy teachers and nervous teachers) to come out of their classrooms, too, and say what needs to be said to really help our schools and our students. This profession must be about what we know to do, not what we are told to do.
Marsha imagines a new era of innovation:
With the improving climate for considering change and hope, my resolution centers around innovation. The challenges facing our students are enormous and varied. I believe there is no single solution that will improve our system unless we embrace a spirit of innovation and a willingness to think differently.
It’s my dream that the impending budget crises throughout the country will force us into this innovative thinking mode. Let’s think creatively in terms of organizing structures, in terms of time (not holding it constant for all students), in configuring classes and courses, in delivering our product to our students. I have no doubt that solutions exist. They are there for us to take if we possess the courage to look at things differently and risk failure to find success.
Mary says we can’t wait for others to lead us:
For an audience of national teacher leaders, I would encourage all of us to speak truth to power. We will only get what is good for students and learning by advocating for ourselves. Though President-elect Obama brings much hope for needed change, I can see that it may serve to make us complacent—waiting for those in power to give us what is right for kids.
Rather than making lifelong learners of our kids, the testing overload is making some students feel worthless, some leave without diplomas, and others interested only in right answers, not thinking critically for themselves. Our schools need to be havens for children full of curiosity and joy. This CAN be achieved. If we are to take our place in the global community, ALL of our students must find their strengths, and all of our teachers must be strong.
What are your teacher leader resolutions for 2009?