What is my kuliana? How did accepting my professional responsibilities with deliberate intent and diligence affect the journey I was on? I wondered about this as the vibration of my seat reminded me that we were about to take off. The plane lifted off the runway pressing me back into the seat. “A smooth take off”, I thought.” Good.” My body relaxed as my mind continued musing about the path I was on. I am a fourth grade teacher who is also the grade level chair this year. So far I enjoy the extra work of supporting my colleagues & following up on the many details woven into the day of an educator. Having a view into the management & inner workings of the leadership team is the most interesting part of this position. I appreciate the opportunity to understand how the monthly meetings are run and find myself closely observing the way each different personality on a team can affect change. This is where I need to reflect on my own participation. The systems in place at my school have distinct purposes. Consistent tracking of instructional schedules, pacing of lessons, behavior/academic intervention along with trust & relationship building of the staff are priorities.
An attempt is being made to wipe the slate clean in order to fix problematic patterns of the past. There has been much improvement but it has been at the expense (at times) of squelching teacher talent & passion. Having consistency provides a control aspect, as in a scientific study, which is needed for collecting data & weeding out the outliers. The problem with rigidly sticking to schedules & decreasing teacher autonomy is that we are dealing with creative human beings who work within an ever changing dynamic of meeting children's needs. Academic needs of students change from day-to-day, month- to-month, year-to-year. When a teacher is asked to be on the same day or week of a curriculum the system becomes rigid and imperfect. When a teacher has to explain why they changed a learning target their professional integrity may be negatively affected. Too often this type of questioning puts many teachers on the defensive which can become a slippery slope leading to negative outcomes. However once the problem areas are identified a strong school team can help to build capacity for trust & positive change! These are the issues my mind considers repeatedly. As the wheels touch down I realize that our landing has been just as smooth as the take off!
I am excited to be in Honolulu today for a Teacher Leadership meeting. This grassroots group of amazing educators are working towards positive change. Teachers are asking to be included & heard. Not tomorrow but today! The narrative is being adjusted. We do not want to quietly buck the broken systems by deviating from imperfect pacing guides. Teachers need to be given opportunities to strategically support & promote their valuable ideas!
The following is quoted from HTLN (Hawai'i Teacher Leader Network) members,” Teachers have enormous potential to help lead efforts that benefit all schools & students. When teachers are given leadership opportunities they are powerful catalysts to change teacher outlooks.” There is work to be done! Be your own best advocate. Raise your voice. Be that teacher who finds the motivation to infuse our culture with hope & power! What is your professional kuleana?