How were they chosen you may ask?
Via our work on Michigan’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), both Matt and Heather have been recognized as advocates for the teachers who make up the over 900 districts in the state of Michigan. Voice in policy at the building, district and state level has been on their radar for quite some time and crafting a track for teachers to amplify their reach was a big piece of their ESSA work. [CLICK HERE for complete plan now out for public comment]
Matt began his teacher leadership early on in his teaching career as a building lead for School Improvement Planning and a district technology and curriculum creation at Kalamazoo Public Schools. Moving into administration as a building leader, Matt made sure to not lose his ties to the classroom by utilizing shared leadership models in his buildings. Being a voice for Teacher Leadership took off for Matt when he became a American Achieves Michigan Educator Voice Fellow and as a Teacher Champion with the Collaborative for Student Success, both of which has afforded him a voice for change both in his current role as Director of Innovation in Teaching and Learning at Schoolcraft Schools and also his work with the Michigan Department of Education. Matt meets frequently with legislators in meetings to develop open dialogue about educators’ voices in policy making.
Heather’s Teacher Leadership journey started with the quest to figure out how technology could meet her students unique learning needs. She personally sought out professional development that taught how to integrate technology into the classroom. Connecting with #Miched led to applying for the America Achieves- MiEd Voice Fellowship. Her desire to not only learn for her own students needs, but to share her findings with other educators resulted in her becoming a PBS Digital Innovator, Finalist for the USDOE Teacher Ambassador Fellowship and most recently a Teacher Champion with Collaborative for Student Success.
Besides the CCSSO opportunity in which Matt and Heather helped the MDE develop a Teacher Leadership plan for an upcoming pilot, both have begun to build a website to help Teachers personalize their PD while encouraging optimal use of educational technology.
Innovationclassroom.com stemmed from a Teach to Lead idea that Heather had two years ago. She knew that teachers lack the time to figure out how to integrate technology effectively for engagement and differentiation while teaching higher standards. Her goal was to create a Professional Development site to train teachers to effectively use technology, in short chunks that were both informative and applicable to multiple content areas, that would push higher level thinking skills. Heather sought out Matt with his technology and professional development skills and with and even larger team of Michigan educators, and with a mix of perseverance and support from multiple organizations this vision is beginning to become a reality. We know that this site will help greatly improve education for our students while providing quality professional development created by educators for educators.
Another area of passion that has risen from our Teacher Leadership work is the knowledge that in order to improve education policy, legislators and educators must come together. Matt and Heather have reached out to legislators and Michigan Department of Education administration to help not only with out MI Roadmap and ESSA plans but also about policy being debated in the House and Senate. In meeting with policy-makers regularly, we have realized the need for more teacher voice and have begun work as Teacher Champions (Collaborative for Student Success) with a team of MI Educators. Our work centers around the principals of "LACE" or learning, advocating, communicating and engaging those who make rules and laws for education. We are excited to have the opportunity to share this message and share in conversations at the upcoming Governor's Education and Talent Summit in late April.
If you would like to help us expand Teacher Leadership across Michigan or need tips or tricks on how to express your #ProudMichiganEducator voices beyond the classroom please do not hesitate to reach out!