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Saturday, August 05, 2017

Learning and Leading: The Synthesis of Many Teaching/Learning Organizations

I am involved in many learning/teaching organizations. Some are public and others are private. I have learned a lot from each of those organizations and I am wondering about the public-private intersections that occur due to this learning.

Just recently I attended the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) #NBAcademy. There, nationally certified educators (NBCTs) from all over the country gathered to share ways that we can inspire more educators throughout the country to become nationally certified. The rationale for this is that teachers should run their own profession the way doctors, lawyers, and other professionals do, and that a national board of accreditation will lead us in that direction. I do believe that educators should run their profession, and I support the NBPTS aim and efforts. My participation in the event was funded by the Massachusetts Teachers' Association (MTA) and the National Education Association (NEA). Those unions are collaborating with NBPTS to grow a network of nationally certified educators.

As a Massachusetts public school teacher, I work with a number of publicly funded initiatives too. I am a member of the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) Teacher Advisory Council. The council is very well run by leaders from DESE who promote professional share and leadership. I am also a public school teacher. I am proud to be a public school teacher, and a teacher who is supported by public dollars, elected officials, and citizen groups. I honor the rationale for public schools, and the fact that public schools are schools owned and operated by public collaboration and effort. I believe this is positive for our communities.

I am also a curious educator who finds lots of interesting education opportunities through online share and collaboration. My dynamic online Professional Learning Network (PLN) has led me to countless opportunities with regard to consulting with start-ups, attending awesome professional learning events such as The Intersection Event and the National Elevating and Celebrating Effective Teaching and Teachers (ECET2) events. These events have broadened my horizons by introducing me to educators throughout the country as well as business, higher education and political leaders who are interested in education. That intersection of ideas and people has helped me to teach my students with greater depth and breadth, and has afforded me support to foster similar events close to home.

As noted above, I am also an active union member at my local, state, and national level. I believe in teachers' unions as I know that our lives as educators give us little time, money, or influence alone, and we need each other to forward the ideas and gain the support needed to teach well. Today too many schools still suffer since the public has not supported those schools well enough with adequate funding, good structures, and supports to forward optimal teaching and learning. Only our collective voice will elevate teaching and learning for all of the country's children.

So how will I move forward with all of these public and private affiliations, what will I do?

First, I will remain an active union member and work towards elevating our collective voices as educators to do what is right and good for teaching/learning communities of students, family members, educators, specialists, staff, administrators and broader community members.

Next, I will continue to participate with supporting private organizations such as NBPTS and ECET2, and as I work with those organizations, I will promote attitudes and actions of union support and collective action. While I honor the great research the ECET2 community provides as evidenced at the top of the page, I also want to make sure that organizations like that are thinking deeply about the positivity and promise public education holds for a strong nation, and the challenge too much privatization of public schools creates when it comes to serving all Americans well with democratic process, respect for our country's diversity, and the need for equitable opportunity for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Further, I'll put most of my time and effort into what I can do with the students in my charge and colleagues I work with. The students are truly my muse when it comes to teaching and learning. It's their voices and needs that call me to be the best that I can be in this profession, and this truth makes me wonder how people can advocate for and lead in education without that steady influence of students' brilliant ideas, passions, needs, and challenges.

There can be great synthesis of public and private entities in our country, but that good synthesis will not happen without deep discussion, debate, and decision making. We have to make sure that we're not focusing on profit or the success of a few over a quality education and opportunity for all children no matter what their culture, class, geographical location, interests, needs, or physicality.

We are living in a time where anyone with desire and passion can become well educated via the Internet. Strong, driven individuals all over the world will rise up to lead in ways we cannot imagine, and I believe that our collective efforts to synthesize our good work and investment for the greater good will forward the leadership of those passionate people towards the greater good rather than selfish, narrow, greedy success.

This is possible, and each teacher can be an integral part of this amazing process and potential. Onward.