Our work with teachers is multifaceted. We help teachers support students' reading development by co-planning, modeling, co-teaching and providing resources and professional development. However, there's another piece of our work that is equally important— celebrating teachers' work and experience, and helping them find a voice in the larger conversation.
The first thing we do is listen. We listen to the teachers’ ideas about curriculum and about kids and we build from there. We do not go in and say this is how you must do it. Our work with teachers is a collaboration.
Next, when we observe or hear about exciting ideas implemented in the classroom, we celebrate them by acknowledging the work and noting success. Then we encourage teachers to share. Sometimes when we suggest sharing, teachers hesitate. We encourage them to start small or work side-by-side to figure out a way to share with which they are comfortable. We do try to nudge them a little past their comfort zone.
Different suggestions based on a teacher's comfort level, might be:
sharing at a grade-level team meeting,
sharing during a school-wide Monday PD,
presenting at district-wide events, or even
presenting at national conferences.
To date, teachers with whom READ East Harlem work have presented at:
Three district professional development sessions
Two AERA presentations
Two NCTE presentations (Soon to be four because teachers will be presenting two sessions at this year's NCTE2018)
Of course, we help teachers plan for these events. We understand that some teachers may be comfortable speaking in front of children, but are not comfortable speaking in front of adults or may have never attended a national conference. Remember, our work is a collaboration.
A final way we encourage teachers to share their thinking and practices, with an even wider audience, is to suggest writing an article. Shelby (a second-grade teacher with whom I used to work) and I did. It took a while for us to write and revise the article (18 months), but we did it, actually, she did it, with my support. Yesterday, the online early version was published. Here’s a sneak peek.
Many of the teachers never even thought about presenting at a conference or writing an article. But with support from collaborative partners they did. And now they have the experience and confidence to know that their voice matters. This type of work supports teachers’ professionalism and continued learning.
What ways have you made your voice heard? Or shared your teaching practices.