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Monday, August 17, 2015

Learning Travels: Teacher Leadership Initiative

Take a look at CTQ's Collaboratory
Getting involved in new learning is like visiting a foreign country.

First, there's the the pull. For some reason, a new country draws your attention. That's the way it was for my honeymoon so many years ago. A relative mentioned his recent visit to Turkey, and suggested that we travel there for our honeymoon. "Turkey for a honeymoon!" I responded. Yet, the seed was planted and the more I researched honeymoon destinations, the more I kept coming back to the idea of visiting Turkey. And I must say, it was a terrific trip--one that has stayed with me since that journey so many years ago.

Similarly, when I read of the Teacher Leadership Initiative I was drawn to the program. I had been reading a lot about teacher leadership, and I'm a big proponent of veteran teachers staying in the classroom and continuing to teach. But without any room for growth, many good teachers leave the classroom for leadership positions. Teacher leadership offers a hybrid role of leader and teacher which I believe is a win-win for students and teachers alike. Hence, I applied and was invited to take this learning journey.

Next, there's the initial entry to the country. I remember when I got off the plane in Turkey. I was mesmerized by the sights and sounds around me. I tread gently as I reviewed maps and found our hotel. The same is true for me today as I embark on the Teacher Leadership Initiative. As I listened to Jennifer Barnett lead the Blackboard introduction, I cautiously looked at the many links and documents  presented. A lot of the approach is foreign to me now, but I know that in time I will learn to use the programs and processes well to meet the initiative's goals. Similarly, the more we traveled throughout Turkey, the more I knew what to do and not to do in order to enjoy and partake in the culture well.

Soon I'll know enough to route my own path as a cohort member of the Teacher Leadership Initiative. I'll use the introductory information to guide my personalized learning path. Already I find myself debating which area I'd like to invest in with depth. I know that I want the work to connect this initiative well with the work I do in my school system with colleagues, students, leaders, family members, and the community.

In Turkey, as the trip continued, we were better able to choose good foods, find historic/recreation spots, and converse with the Turkish people. The familiarity allowed us to personalize our trip and make for a rich experience.

I'm sure I'll write a lot about the Teacher Leadership Initiative journey in the days and weeks ahead. These reflections will serve to share the experience with others who may be interested in partaking in the effort in the future. The reflections will also help me to get the most out of the experience.

Like traveling the globe, the Internet allows us to learn in ways similar to travel as we traverse multiple platforms and connect to colleagues near and far. These wonderful journeys are worth the adventure, challenge, and result.

Early on, at the start of my online professional learning work, I was drawn to the Center for Teacher Quality's (CTQ) focus and endeavor. I also followed Jennifer Barnett on Twitter and engaged in collegial exchange about teaching and learning with her and her colleagues. Now, with this new adventure, it's been great to see how CTQ has grown and developed over the years to become a wonderful resource for strategic action with regard to teaching children well.