An Opportunity to Reflect

I was recently asked the following question:

If you were given the opportunity to sit down with trusted colleagues and talk with them about teaching practices and educational issues, what are some of the topics that you would want to talk about why? Would you be willing to take time from your schedule to engage in these conversations? What factors would encourage or inhibit you from doing so?

I realized that I am quite fortunate in that I have the opportunity to do that very thing on an ongoing basis and to dive further into the educational and social issues while considering the systems that impact them. I willingly take at least an hour every two weeks or more, to meet with them.
We began as a book club a year and a half ago, reading This Is Not A Test by Jose Luis Vilson. We talked about how schools play their own part in repeating history with the dividing consequences of standardized testing, and the myth that grades signal the value of a person that is perpetuated by the public understanding of school. We attend edcamps and conferences as often as we are able. A subset of my conversation partners and I participated in the Startup Weekend Education competition where we pitched a piece of software that highlights connections between students, teachers, and communities. We have looked at what makes teacher collaboration successful. We have brainstormed how to increase parent involvement and some have put it into practice in their classrooms. We struggle with the issue of access in education – how having access to resources gets you places, but you have to have the resources to get access. An example of this shows up in how students are currently admitted into the “advanced math” programming at my school – done by parent request. If a parent doesn’t know it’s an option, they can’t make that request. (Yes, we’re working on it.) We have examined our discipline system and see how removing students from the community without a reentry point to reconcile the act that caused their exit is not going to allow us to cultivate the learning ecosystem that values its learners. As a result, some teachers have begun restorative justice practices within their grade level.

Our conversations have helped us see how the tangle of systems we call school have created the conditions for perpetuating inequity. As at-will employees, we don’t have anything protecting us from being dismissed for our views; however, we all have a level of wanting to do right by our students so we work to change the things that we can and work within the system to change the things beyond our locus of control. I am cautiously optimistic following pitching the idea we developed at the Teach to Lead Summit to our CEO.

We’re continuing the conversation, and opening the floor. We try to provide access points to include as many voices as are willing, and allow for the ones who just want to listen. I’m proud of the work we have done and look forward to seeing how much we can accomplish together in the future.

Tutolo – Teach to Lead Summit Reflection

TTLSummit-GTA

Nick Tutolo reflects on the Teach to Lead Summit experience in his latest blog Teach to Lead, New Orleans. Tutolo talks about his major takeaways from the Summit: building partnerships, retaining teachers, redefining leaders, and community input. Sprout-Fund_green

Many thanks to the Sprout Fund for providing funding for our group to travel to New Orleans to participate in the hard work of challenging the status quo in education.

GTAcast10

Welcome to GTAcast number 10! We have new technology! This is our first recording in the wild. As we get better with the device, there will be an improvement in sound quality. For now, however, we’re still learning and ask for the podcast equivalent of “pardon our dust”.

Recently, members of the Guerrilla Teacher Academy had the opportunity to attend the Green Schools Conference and Expo in Pittsburgh PA. The highlight of the event was the final keynote speaker, Dr. Christopher Emdin. He is a professor at Columbia University, an empassioned and eloquent speaker, and recently received the Early Career Award from American Educational Research Association 

We began this meeting by reflecting on Dr. Emdin’s talk. This discussion is what follows.

—–

  • excavating is a continual practice
  • build systems that function as empathy bridges – we participate in the narrative of disconnection when we don’t know.
  • we need to ask better questions
  • how do we create inequality even if it’s not intentional?
  • how do we validate some kids and not others?
  • a need to escape the deficit model.
  • bring the voiceless into the conversation
  • when we say we’re going to save you, we are basically saying you have something wrong with you.
  • deconstructing respectability
  • are we legitimately co-creating our spaces that we are in or are we asking some people to make more trade offs than others?
  • be mindful of the space we are holding
  • the opposite of aggression is curiosity
  • have I excavated enough of myself to make the right decisions?
  • efficiency is attractive
  • frustration of how students treat each other, but we have to look at what we’re doing to them.
  • is what I’m doing for my students?
  • how do we engage further?

—–

One of the ways we hope to encourage others to participate in this conversation is through these podcasts. We generate many questions through this work, and can only hope to answer them through introspection and dialogue. We hope you can find your own ways to engage in this work, and create space for your own excavation and grow your community’s capacity for empathy.

We’ll continue next week by looking at how creating seemingly inclusive classrooms can unintentionally exclude students and ponder the reality that there may be students who don’t want to be included.

For more information about the Green Schools Conference, go to greenschoolsconference.org

To learn more about Dr. Emdin and his work visit chrisemdin.com or follow him on twitter @chrisemdin.

We are counting  down the days until the Guerrilla Teacher Academy descends upon New Orleans for the Teach to Lead summit. Kaz alluded to some of what we hope to accomplish there – building empathy bridges. We are hoping to talk to other participants and bring their ideas to you as well.

Our music is Real Swing Shet by Ménage Quad and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

GTAcast is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

GTAcast9

Welcome to GTAcast presented by the Guerrilla Teacher Academy. I’m Ashley and I’ll be your host for Episode 9. Michelle and I are continuing our conversation about a recent forum hosted by our school to get teachers input for determining a new compensation model. In this segment we will consider our ideal system and its relationship to the values of the school.

In the interest of full disclosure, this was recorded late one night using primitive technology. Also we were a bit punchy, and seem to have kept our language rating.

We begin this episode by defining an ideal system.

How can we advocate for each other if we don’t know what others need?

We began the conversation

with the question: How do you fairly compensate someone for the work that they do?

Current situation – competency based growth program with a portfolio documenting growth in teaching.

Our music is Real Swing Shet by Ménage Quad and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

GTAcast is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

GTAcast8

Welcome to GTAcast presented by the Guerrilla Teacher Academy. I’m Ashley and I’ll be your host for Episode 8. Michelle and I are talking about a recent discussion hosted by our school to determine a new model for compensating employees within our system. We shared some frustrations and some things that we thought were appropriate for the scenario. Today’s segment will talk about Deliberative Democracy and the type of situations that it is appropriate for. In the interest of full disclosure, this was recorded late one night using primitive technology. Also we were a bit punchy, and seem to have earned our first language rating.

We begin with the question: How do you fairly compensate someone for the work that they do?

Current situation – competency based growth program with a portfolio documenting growth in teaching.

If the system claims to value co-teaching, where is the I and where is the WE in the work when we are evaluated individually, What happens when the work is OURS?

Our music is Real Swing Shet by Ménage Quad and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. GTAcast is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

GTAcast7

Welcome to GTAcast7! Today, Ashley talks supervision versus evaluation. She compares the two, as well as some of the traditional models to a teacher-led model.

Link List:
Discussion Starters for Creating a Teacher Powered School – Lessons From the Pioneers: Evaluation
Want to be a guest? Email us or tweet us @GuerillaLrng.
Teach to Lead Summit

Our music is Real Swing Shet by Ménage Quad and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. GTAcast is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

GTAcast6

In today’s episode, I’ll be breaking from our normal format just a little bit. I had hoped to record a roundtable discussion about our application to share our ideas at the Teach to Lead Summit in April. Unfortunately, I was cleaning up a classroom rather than setting up the recording equipment. Instead of editing after recording, We’ve decided to share with you the main pitch of our idea, some of the highlights of the discussion, and how we thought through the question “What exactly are we trying to do here?”

Here’s the pitch:

We believe that an empathic civilization naturally leads to a more equitable one. Our formula is simple: welcome diversity + cultivate community → grow empathy → achieve equity. We seek to develop a teacher leadership program that fosters self-awareness, empathy, and systems thinking. We want to equip teachers with practices that cultivate an environment in which all students can be seen as valuable members.

We envision an academy of teachers who grow mindsets, develop toolsets, and create experiences, environments, and systems that have empathy at their core. We’ve piloted this program as a group called Guerrilla Teachers Academy (GTA) under the mantra: a nimble wisdom taskforce for taking on the evolving challenges of our institution and education at large. Members work on initiatives including: developing a human-centered design conference, instituting restorative justice, redesigning school schedules, and establishing a student government. GTA is a teacher-powered initiative that engages the people who work directly with students in the design of systems that impact their learning communities.

Success is interrupting narratives of inequity including: students without resources lacking educational agency or teachers enforcing their cultural norms on students without recognition of a student’s culture. Our program will be measured by positive community interactions and reduced skill gaps. It will be measured by the autonomy teachers feel in creating learning environments that unite the values of their entire classroom population. We can measure our progress through our school climate and culture surveys, which assess the level of connection students and teachers feel within the school. We intend to achieve a more just and equitable learning community where all students and teachers can say, “These are my people!”

  •  finding our identity
  •  what can we do with this event?
  •  yes, GTA is a model, but for what audience?
  •  what we hope to get out of this opportunity?
    •  defining the onramp
    •  removing the idea that we’re brave to try or get away with stuff

Thank you for listening to the Guerrilla Teacher Academy Podcast! Join the conversation at teacherjam.org.

Links!
Teach to Lead Summit
Hey, I got the email right on the recording! If you want to be a part of the conversation on the podcast, email teacherjampgh@gmail.com

Thanks for sticking with me as I recorded with a cold, continued to perpetuate the lie that it was the 8th, and knocked my drink over when I was getting excited about something… 🙂

Our music is Real Swing Shet by Ménage Quad and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
GTAcast is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

GTAcast5

Welcome GTAcast episode 5 presented by the Guerrilla Teacher Academy. My name is Ashley Capps and we’re going to return to my conversation with Justin Aion. We’ll be diving back into the topic of professional development and why it is as important to let teachers drive their learning as students. We compare expectations of teachers in in service when it comes to the format of the instruction and how we use technology. We also talk about how we ourselves have used the internet, blogging and twitter specifically, to grow our personal learning networks and to help connect and reflect on our practice.

Links:
relearningtoteach.com/
@JustinAion
www.edcamp.org 

Thank you for listening to the Guerrilla Teacher Academy’s GTAcast. Join the conversation at teacherjam.org.

Our music is Real Swing Shet by Ménage Quad and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
GTAcast is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

GTAcast4

Welcome to the Guerrilla Teacher Academy’s GTAcast episode 4. Ashley’s guest today is Justin Aion, a math and sciences teacher and our topic dives into the realm of professional development, specifically edcamps. We look at what edcamps are, how Justin got started with them, and the adaptability of edcamps for school- or district-wide professional development opportunities.

Link List: 

relearningtoteach.com/

@JustinAion

www.edcamp.org 

Shout out to Nick Tutolo – When Teachers Take the Lead was Published in Education Week Teacher on 16 February 2016.

Our music is Real Swing Shet by Ménage Quad and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

GTAcast is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Thank you for listening!