Challenge Accepted: Honoring Voice and Choice in Teachers

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This past summer, I spent a day running the St. Jude Dunlap to Peoria race in honor of two of our students at DGS. At the last leg of the run, we jogged to Rachel Patten’s song, “This is my Fight Song.” One of my favorite lines from the whole song is, “I only have one match, but I can make an explosion.” This prolific sentiment speaks to the power of one action, one word, or one conversation can have on lighting a metaphorical fire!  This #leadlap challenge of ‘honoring voice and choice’ in teachers resonates with that portion of the song. As leaders, we have the ability to light this spark of creativity, innovation, and passion in our teachers.

“Like a small boat, in the ocean, sending big waves into motion” was also a key phrase in her song that applied to this challenge. With small, brief, and intentional offers of support, our teachers can make a big impact on student learning as they develop professionally!  As a result of the challenge, I followed up with each of my teachers regarding their professional development plans. These plans are created each fall as a professional goal for each educator. I touch base with them in January regarding these goals, but it is fairly self-guided and initiated by the staff member. As I reached out to each teacher, I offered my support and time to help them reach their goals. What resulted was:

1. A classroom teacher asking to observe in a different grade level on their implementation of their RtI block groups and data collection tools. I will cover her class on Tuesday so that she can take this professional learning opportunity to observe a colleague implement best practices!

2. A specials teacher reflecting on benefits of video modeling and taking the time to consider alternative uses for this strategy in her computer lab.

3. A classroom teacher taking a risk to start a professional reflection blog to capture her thoughts and share her learning with other teachers.

4. A classroom teacher sharing with me her PLC team plans to flip reading instruction of their ‘big book’ and another teacher preparing to flip her math lessons. She even had a parent that is also a teacher ask how to flip her lessons… The fire is spreading!

I also had a lot of thanks for checking in, thanks for asking, and I appreciate the support. Honoring the voice and choice in teachers not only sparked some ideas for implementation, but also continued to build respect, rapport, and a positive culture of trust.  As I continue to hold these conversations and offer anchors of support and encouragement, I am confident that my little boat in the ocean at DGS can set big waves into motion! I look forward to continued efforts of innovation, creativity, collaboration, and awesomeness in teaching and learning.

My goals moving forward as a result of this challenge include:

1. Follow up on professional goals monthly with teachers.

2. Continue to provide class coverage for teachers to observe other colleagues

3. Continue to promote the use of the Pineapple Board http://dunlapgradeschool.edublogs.org/2015/08/11/pineapple-professional-learning/

4. Strategically spark innovation by being an effective listener during collaborative conversations http://dunlapgradeschool.edublogs.org/2015/11/03/c-is-for-collaborative-conversations-challenge-accepted/

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