Friday, January 1, 2016

Looking Forward

At this time last year I was reminiscing about 2014 and all I'd experienced in that momentous year. I linked this blog post to a Facebook post about moving into 2015, and I was a little surprised to find the following five-part pledge buried in there. (I don't usually take myself so seriously.)

1. I will continue to advocate on behalf of Montana's teachers and students in ways which my experience and intuition guide me.

2. I will continue to be active in my Teacher of the Year networks and associations to enhance my ability to advocate for public education.

3. I will continue to push for teacher leadership models in our school structures.

4. I will continue to be vocal against nonsense testing, overtesting, testing without feedback, testing fads, and testing profiteering.

5. I will continue to teach at some level because I know that's how I can best serve my community.

Look at all those "I will" statements! So purposeful. But instead of diminishing myself, I'd like to review them earnestly. Number one was a gimme. Of course I will always do that. 

To address number two, I became a Hope Street Group National Teacher Fellow. The Fellows worked together to obtain teacher input on the topic of teacher preparation in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Education. I also had the opportunity through the NEA Foundation to be a Global Learning Fellow and visit Peru. For me the most important part of this experience was learning about the ways indigenous and impoverished children are educated and how community schools are built and run in Peru. This gave me perspective on my own experience on the Flathead Reservation in Montana, which I blogged about here.

I'll come back to number three in a different post about teacher leadership.

Number four: Clearly, I continue to be vocal against all kinds of nonsense testing, overtesting, testing without feedback, testing fads, and testing profiteering. This was my favorite piece of the pledge because I am passionate about it; toward the end of the year the Every Student Succeeds Act was passed and it allows for testing reduction in states that want to do so. In fact in Montana, our superintendent has rescinded the Smarter Balanced tests for 11th graders, leaving only the ACT in their place. Hallelujah.  

In defense of number five, I left my part-time literacy coaching position and returned full-time to the classroom this year. Coaching was not a strength of mine, and it did not fulfill my desire to be with kids. It also required that I be intimately involved with and supportive of the additional testing we do in our district (see numbers one, two, and four). Back in my classroom, I was astonished at how much happier I felt about my daily activities and the work my students and I accomplished together.

I look forward, therefore, to 2016. I look forward to renewing these pledges and becoming more involved in policy. I look forward to developing new ways of advocating for public school teachers and families. I look forward to learning to work more effectively with all my students. 

I look forward.  

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