19 Dec A Year in the Life of a Hope Street Group National Teacher Fellow
As my year as a Hope Street Group National Teacher Fellow comes to an end, I am reflecting on the experience, what it has taught me, how it has changed me, and how it will continue to impact me even after my year is over.
The most important thing the experience taught me is that there are as many organizations across the nation that want to hear teachers’ voices (or help us get our voices heard) as there are teachers who want to be heard. This was both enlightening and encouraging.
It’s no secret that teachers work in an isolated profession. We spend most of our time in our classrooms separated not only from the public at large, but also from others of our own profession. Given this aspect of our field, feeling as though no one truly understands (or is even all that interested in) the work that we do is common. Furthermore, teachers are so busy planning, grading, and teaching that they have little time for their own personal lives, let alone time to become advocates for improving the profession beyond their own classrooms.
The experience of being a National Teacher Fellow has moved me from participating in local (building/district-level) education conversations to participating in state and national conversations about education. Knowing that so many organizations—from teacher voice groups like Hope Street Group to those that fund them like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation—actually want to hear what teachers have to say and use our input to inform decisions that impact education has motivated me to take advantage of every opportunity that presents itself to speak on behalf of my fellow teachers.
The networking opportunities that have been open to me as a Fellow have been amazing. From attending the Gates Foundation’s National Elevating and Celebrating Effective Teaching and Teachers event, to helping plan the Florida State version of the event, to attending their Connecting Teachers to Teachers event, to testifying at one of the Florida State hearings on the Common Core along with members from the Center for Teaching Quality, being a Hope Street Group National Teacher Fellow has afforded me the opportunity to make connections with people from all over the country who want to improve education including classroom teachers as well as business professionals and government representatives. Had I not participated in the HSG Fellowship Program, I doubt I would ever have developed a fraction of such wide-ranging connections.
I fully intend to nurture the connections I have developed with the other National Teacher Fellows as well as the other teachers, business professionals and government representatives long after the term of the fellowship is over. Through these connections, I will strive to continue to get my voice and the voices of my colleagues to those who make the decisions about education to continue to improve and elevate the teaching profession.