Saturday, May 5, 2012

Sleepless in Seattle

 April 29-May 5    

 Was I only gone for two weeks?  It seemed like a lifetime.  Upon my arrival home after a week of being treated like a rock star in DC, I opened up a can of Campbell's soup (hadn't been grocery shopping in a few weeks) and began to go through my mail.  It appears that my message is beginning to get through.  This article in my local association newsletter uses one of the hooks in my speech as a call to action.  If not you, who?  If not now, when?

      After trying to wrap my head around normal life again after the week in DC, I was off to William Paterson Univ to talk to their students about teaching and offer some words of wisdom.  They were a great crowd and I had some nice conversations with several pre-service students after my talk.  I am finding that students throughout the state want so much to be inspired and given hope that they have chosen the right profession.  The worry about finding jobs and whether their passion and enthusiasm will be a good fit for the school districts they are applying to.  My universal advice, be yourself.   I discovered that William Paterson has a unique approach to student teaching where a professor is paired up with the co-operating teacher so that they can do research, publish, or work together on some project.  It is a great incentive for the co-operating teacher and gives a level connection between k-12 and higher ed that isn't found very often.  I like it!

         The next day I was off to Seattle to take part in a CCSSO conference on Educator Effectiveness. Teams are made up by the state and composed of 5 members who are supposed to represent a cross-section of policy makers and interests in education. NJ had asked me to be a part of their team and I was happy to speak on behalf of the educators in NJ.  CCSSO is also the group that sponsored the NTOY festivities in DC the week before, so I was hoping to see several of my fellow STOYs at the conference, but I was the only one.  I found this to be particularly ironic because the conference focused on classroom teachers as the cornerstone of success for our students.  Why then weren't there more of us there?  It was as I suspected after discussions with STOYs from around the country.  Many are given a ceremonial role, but not the opportunity to actually get involved in policy making.

         I was determined to speak up not only for my own colleagues, but for the STOYs who are well- versed and have been discussing many of these same issues while also experiencing the implications of policy in the classroom.  In many states, there is a huge disconnect between policy makers and educators. 

          I have my suspicions about why I was invited to be on NJ's team, as most of the team members simply knew me as the TOY, but by the time the week was done, they had met Jeanne from Jersey, the outspoken, articulate, champion of teacher voice that will not take no for an answer.  One thing we are not in NJ is shy, and I think the team appreciated the fact that I could push back, see logic, and respectfully agree to disagree.  I may even be invited back again. 

         When we arrived on May 1, some pesky anarchists had decided to go all hooligan-like and destroy some shop fronts downtown.  I am guessing my mom didn't watch the evening news that day because I didn't receive any urgent text messages demanding that I stay at the hotel.  I ran across more than my fair share of strange people downtown.  It must be the weather.  All this rain and grey would make me a little crazed too. 

While we were there I came across several people I had already met through my various STOY events.  It was nice to have a frame of reference and be able to introduce my team to some of the people I know in the education world. 

 With Michelle Shearer, 2011 NTOY, and Holly Boffy 2010 STOY from Louisiana.

It was a week of work, but I did manage to get in some play time.  The Space Needle, the original Starbucks, Pike's Market and the flagship Nordstrom were on the list.  It may have rained the whole time, but it was a good trip.  I found Nordstrom Rack and the shoe gods were pleased.

Atop the Space Needle

Pike's Market

Beautiful flowers at the market

The original Starbucks

         It was a good trip but now I am on my way home where I need to get some sleep.  It seems the miles have finally caught up with me and now I am sick.  I apologize ahead of time to anyone who catches my cold on the plane.  I will try to cough quietly.

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