Dallas Takeaways

The past six days I was in Dallas, TX as part of the National Teacher of the Year program sponsored by CCSSO. It was amazing to meet and learn with outstanding teachers from nearly every state in our country and many of our territories abroad. As with any such experience it takes a while to unpack all of the experiences and learning that takes place. I know in the days and weeks the follow I will continue to reflect back and revisit those experiences. However, I have some initial takeaways that I am sure will apply to any teacher.

Know your message:
We had an entire session aimed to help us craft and deliver our “message” about education. Now, I know that as teachers of the year, we will be asked our opinions about a great many things and always need to be ready to provide a response. However, any teacher should be prepared with their message. What do you stand for? If you had to sum up what education is about or should be, what would you say?

Tell our own stories:
If you follow me on twitter you might have seen my venting tweet the other day.

I was sitting in a session where the presenter was advising us all on how to deal with the media. When talking about social media, he used some pretty heavy scare tactics and exaggerated stories. He mentioned teachers that had been fired or dismissed for inappropriate use of social media and blogs that said bad things about the teaching profession. As politely and professionally as I could, I stood up and pointed out that yes, teachers have been disciplined for activities on social media. However, that is not a product of social media but rather of poor decisions of a human. I also pointed out that social media such as twitter and blogs is the one true place teachers can tell the stories they want. It is here that we share our successes or failures without the bias or slant of a journalist. I strongly urge all teachers to use all tools of media to share their stories and be a positive face for our profession. Don’t fear it, but embrace it.

In our final session of the week we did a small group activity with some role playing. We were discussing the topic of teacher evaluation and were using the roles of parent, teacher, administrator and policy maker. Through our discussions it was easy to see how we often only see things from the perspective of a teacher and maybe a parent. We rarely take into consideration the decision making process of an administrator or a policy maker in the government. That is not to say that we now agree with every decision that has been made in our collective states in regards to education. However, it gave us a perspective that I know I never really think about. In moving forward I am going to attempt to keep that in mind and look at the decisions in education through all lenses and not just that of a teacher.

All in all it was a great trip and learning opportunity. With that being said, I did have one tremendous disappointment. When I stepped outside of the airport I yelled, “The stars at night are big and bright…” but I didn’t get a reply. So bummed… 


Mike - Not Your Parent said...

Sound like a great conference. I have been wondering why people hate Social Media being used in schools so much - gets such a bad label. Really wish people would get out of the stone ages and accept it as a great learning and communication tool.

Also liked the last bit about different perspectives. I always forget about those pesky school admin teams.

Mike - Not Your Parent


janet Abercrombie said...

Your comment about looking at issues from all stakeholder angles brings back bad memories of educational policy courses :).

Good exercises, though - and a good reminder for everyone that we can't only look at issues from teachers' perspectives.

Nice post.
Janet | expateducator.com

Michael-Ann Cerniglia said...

Great post. I have enjoyed reading your blog and I appreciate your defense of using SM in education. I believe that the best teachers are reflective of their practice, share, and seek peer feedback and collaboration. If we are to grow professionally-- as individuals and collectively as a profession-- we must embrace these tools. As I discussed in my first blog post, we need to model for students how to engage responsibly and contribute to the conversation if we expect them to participate in a meaningful way.

Mrs. Beck said...

You are absolutely right about the abuses of SM being a human error! I get so tired of hearing the neg of SM and not the positive. Because of SM, I know who Stump the Teacher is and he has helped transform my classroom. Because of SM, I have a site full of sources thanks to Cybraryman1! Because of SM, I get to connect with other SS teachers across the globe every Monday night @ 6pm. Because of SM, I get PD everyday!

Martha Lackey said...

So excited to heart that you were in my neck of the woods. I teach in Midlothian about 20 minutes from Dallas. It is social media like twitter and google+ that can change the way you teach in a classroom. I'm am so glad that you spoke up and shared the other flip side of that coin. Teachers need to be more educated today when it comes to social media. They only choose to hear the negative side of it and not how it can foster creative thinking in the classroom. Next time your in Dallas, be sure to keep looking up to find those stars shining bright! There are lots of teachers in Midlothian who are shining brightly.