Monday, June 22, 2009

Strengthening My Teacher Leadership Skills

Yesterday was Sunday, Father's Day; where was I? I was at the Mt. Vernon Convention Center here in DC for the 2009 National Charter Schools Conference.
Keynote speakers include urban schools leaders: New York City Public Schools Chancellor Joel Klein and District of Columbia Public Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee. Additionally, President Barack Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan were invited to address the conference.
I didn't hear them speak anymore today. I could only afford to go to yesterday's Teacher Initiatives workshop sessions sponsored by the US Department of Education because yesterday's sessions were free. There were a lot of teachers coming from the DC Area aside from those who arrived from across the country. There were many public schools teachers yesterday who I guess, like me, were taking advantage of the free professional development sessions conducted by our national teacher leaders, Teaching Ambassadors and Fellows from the US Dep't of Ed, and/or National Board Certified Teachers.

I always go to national conferences and I am used to engaging in meaningful conversations with my colleagues coming from other districts about education policies, theories, philosophies and teaching practices. But there was this weird feeling yesterday. In the past, when I shared during group discussions or with the big group, after I introduced myself as a teacher from DC Public Schools they politely listened to me, no questions were asked, just "ok, fine". Yesterday, after I introduced myself as a teacher from DC Public Schools, people stopped what they were doing, looked at me, and listened intently.

During small group discussions after going through what we were supposed to do, teachers engaged in small talks with me like "So, how do you like your young and aggressive Chancellor?", "It's very shaky right now in DCPS, how are you affected by this?"...there were many more questions; I guess the one good thing about being a DC Public Schools teacher right now is popularity (or is this really a good thing?)

I went to several sessions, mostly on Teacher Leadership and building Professional Learning Communities (PLC) in schools, and learned a lot, now ready to bring back new knowledge to my school and school district. Before the school year ended, I told one of my colleagues that I am now ready for more challenges and to accept more responsibilities. I still want to be a classroom teacher, but I want to assume a different role now. I believe that I can better serve the students and positively impact young precious lives more if I can directly support their teachers and help strengthen their teaching skills and encourage them to implement the best practices of teaching.

Next year's conference will be in Chicago, just FYI for those who would be interested. What have I learned from yesterday? It's here.

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