Picture this…. 4 minutes to get across what you and your team feel is the most important leadership change necessary in American education’s history….no big deal right? Thank goodness I and my team (Heather Gauck and Kathy Thompson of Grand Rapids, Donna Rummel of South Haven, Sarah Giddings of Ann Arbor and Kelly Cusmano of Rochester) thrive under pressure!
Our experience at the “Agents for Change” Learning Competition held by Learning Forward began with a celebration of the final 12 teams and an unveiling of the numerous organizations who were supporting and learning from the presentations.
We came with 4 slides (maximum allowed) and a full presentation ready to share but were quickly awoken to our need to refine deeply by Coach Michelle King of Learning Forward. Her savvy and probing questions allowed us to focus our presentation on not only our definition of Teacher Leaders but also helped to define how our vision of improvement throughout Michigan must come within the parameters laid out by the new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). We took turns in our breakout room to give feedback to two other groups from Illinois and New Mexico as they gave a synopsis of their projects before taking a midday break.
We left our first work session with Michelle and had the great pleasure to meet and greet with all of the organizations who sponsored the event and other coaches who were in attendance. We had the pleasure of meeting the National Teacher of the Year Jahana Hayes who was not only humble but full of wisdom about why competitions like these are of utmost importance in our current educational environment as the voices of current practitioners MUST be a the table for our students success.
After our reception we worked well into the night practicing and perfecting our presentation and trying to give a personalized voice to the details.
We awoke to a breakfast and last minute tweaking with our coach. To learn from our mistakes we recorded our practice and critiqued and bettered multiple times. Our coach Michelle led us to the stage where the presentation was to be live streamed online as well as critiqued by leaders in the educational field locally where we got one run-through to practice. All went well with the practice and then we waited for our big moment. How did it go? Watch below!
All of our learning has been carried forward to the Michigan ESSA committee we now serve on as well as to other MDE projects like the Technology Roadmap. Learning Forward MI has already reached out for continued support which we appreciate.
What did I learn?
1. There are people all over our educational landscape who are ready to listen to educators and their viewpoints on lifting students and the teaching profession.
2. Teacher power is something to behold! All 12 teams displayed current programs they already are implementing despite political and policy barriers and show no signs of letting up!
3. Presenting at a national competition not only helps to get your word out but also helps you to network well beyond your local team of educators to empower and learn from others!