Monday, January 13, 2014

Teacher Leadership Challenge | January 13, 2014

Screen Shot 2013-08-31 at 5.01.03 PMHappy New Year--and welcome back to this multipart series intended to help teachers grow their leadership practice and ignite conversations about education online, through blogging, and in person.
The goal of a teacher leader is to improve the learning of all students through their efforts, collaboration, and influence. The 2014 Teacher Leadership Challenge is a weekly installment activity that poses a prompt on an educational topic or issue. Your challenge is to respond within one week to the prompt via a post you publish to your blog. Responses to the prompt that you publish to your own blog should be around 500 words or less. The aim is to get more teachers thinking globally about their classroom practice and their own connection to the wider education community. You can subscribe to this blog to get the weekly challenge sent automatically by email.
You can share your post to Twitter using #TLC2014 and spark conversation with educators. In addition to posting on your own blog, you can elect to include your post in the weekly collection showcase blog. To do this, simply email your completed response post to the showcase, at Make sure that you include the title of your post with the week of the prompt for proper tagging (e.g., "My Post Title | September 6, 2013") in the subject line (without "re:") of your email, and the full post laid out in paragraphs in the body of the email. Posts are automatically published by sending the email. You can embed images and URLs into the body of your email, and the post will publish while maintaining your formatting and layout. Check out others' responses in the response collection or on Google+ each week, leave them your comments, and get the conversation rolling ahead for teacher leadership.

Historically, the #TLC2014 has come out each Friday in 2013; however, by popular demand the challenge is moving to Mondays in 2014! Each Monday at 7am, the next prompt in the series will be published right here on the blog. You can subscribe to the blog to make sure you don't miss any of the challenge.

This Week's Challenge:

How Serious Will You Be About Professional 'Development' in 2014?

IMG_2585As Dr. Deborah Loewenberg Ball so aptly posited last year, there is a "national imperative" to build teaching as a profession. Dr. Ball was the keynote speaker at the 2013 Network of Michigan Educators Annual Conference. Listening to Dr. Ball make a case for how teachers are not regarded as professionals in their own field to the public sparked a really poignant question. Do teachers even consider themselves, and regard themselves, as professionals?
Often we use the word 'profession' or 'professional' associated with teaching, but do we really believe it? What are the observable actions that could convey to others that we do? How serious do we take advancing our own professional practice and becoming better more cutting-edge professionals? If we do, in fact, take teaching to be a profession, then we must heed Dr. Ball's charge to take our own profession more seriously, more professionally, and help reshape the public perception of teaching.
To take our profession more seriously, and to build the teaching field as a profession in the public eye, we must begin first with our own professional development. Teacher leaders make their own teaching better, they help make others' teaching better, and they strive to make teaching better. Teacher leadership starts from within the classroom. To be a teacher leader, one must be a masterful teacher. The goal of professional learning is not to merely complete as many workshops as possible, but rather to actually develop as a professional. Being exposed to new ideas is not enough, we must put them into action. We must make our classrooms better and then go from there.
So what will you be doing to take your professional development seriously this year? Seriously enough to develop yourself professionally and contribute to the collective public perception that teaching is a profession and that you are a professional?
Are you taking your career as a teacher seriously enough that others notice? When you reflect on your own classroom, are you honest with yourself about how you can work to improve. How are you taking the teaching profession seriously enough that your teaching exudes professionalism when people learn of your work? Are you enhancing your own practice like other professionals do, seeking/gaining new insights and then implementing them? How are you contributing to your own and others’ professional growth? How are you contributing to supporting the teachers in your department, building, district, area, state, country, or profession? Are you meeting your role as an outstanding teacher and teacher leader such that it adds to the collective thought that teachers are highly-skilled professionals?
Will you attend conferences? Are you going to sign up for more workshops? Will you reflect more on your classroom practice, or blog about your classroom to refine your teaching ideas? Do you plan to get involved in online professional learning communities? Will you resolve to bring more back to your classroom from professional learning opportunities and take action to enhance your professional practice? Will you get more involved in Twitter chats, unconferences, or your Professional Learning Communities at school? Maybe your professional development happens individually, or maybe it happens with others. Regardless of who is involved, how will you be tackling the challenge of becoming even better at what you do in your profession?
Developing as a professional requires a goal and an action plan. Like Stephen R. Covey professed: "begin with the end in mind." Before you can get started on your action plan, you must identify a goal and be serious about it. If your goal is to develop professionally, and not just 'attend professional development' then you must focus on that. How serious are you about developing your profession this year and what steps will you take to make it happen?

Image Credit: Gary Abud, Jr. 2013 | Summer Modeling Instruction in Chemistry Institute