This week I met over a dozen teachers at our Teacher Allies meeting. I thought it was a brilliant name for a meeting (sorry, I can’t take credit for it but Julie Fabrocini can!). Over the past five years we’ve made two types of investments: place-based (essentially states, districts and schools) and networks (organizations that have teachers as members of their community and range in purpose from leadership to advocacy to content-based). The purpose of the meeting was to make a little fruit salad—to mix up the two types of partners we’ve had to see if we could make a better-tasting appetizer.
We called it Teacher Allies because that was our hope for the folks who came from “places,” and we certainly wanted teachers to feel as if they had allies in each other and in the foundation. I gave a version of my speech from the Global Teacher Prize to the whole group. But I also did something just with the teachers. We went deeper into a set of narratives that teachers have about their profession and I asked them to “re-write” the narrative in their own words: how do they feel about the profession and what would they like all teachers to feel about the profession? Here’s what one teacher, Jeffrey, had to say:
Supported Not Empowered
“I don’t need to be empowered; I know what I want to do, why I want to do it, and I trust myself to get the job done. I need you to recognize the challenges I face and create solutions. Don’t empower me. Share power.”
Thanks, Jeffery for sharing your vision. I have a feeling it will resonate with other teachers. There wasn’t a better way to end the meeting than to make that statement. We left on a high about the clarity of the narrative and excited about the work ahead needed to get there.