Only Teacher in the Room

Written in response to the Medium Article https://brightthemag.com/that-time-a-tech-company-partnered-with-big-government-not-to-spy-on-people-614932b5e334

Originally posted on Medium in October 2015 https://brightthemag.com/as-an-attendee-of-the-i3-event-at-medium-i-was-struck-by-the-fact-i-was-the-only-teacher-in-the-868331326469

As an attendee of the i3 event at Medium, I was struck by the fact I was the only teacher in the room (and since I had invited myself to the event, there could have easily been no teachers in the room). This is important for the reasons that Gabe mentions above — how will this information be shared? How will they learn from each other? Also, how will the schools, teachers, parents, and students learn about what is happening with the initiatives? Though the work is being done at a “high” level, teachers are going to be the ones who will bring those evidence-based practices into the classroom. And it doesn’t matter if Dan Weisberg’s work doesn’t directly impact me (though it might since my school works with TNTP as part of our induction program), but as an educator, I need to know what is happening in the greater education community. The issues they are trying to solve are the issues WE also need to solve. We need to hear about the evidence-based practices that are being implemented so that we can learn and try them in our schools.

More conversation needs to happen between all levels in education — from students and teachers to districts all the way to the US Department of Education. As we work to break down silos in schools, we need to break down silos in the education systems. Hearing from Arne Duncan and the incoming Secretary of Education Dr. John King is something all teachers should be able to do (and once I mentioned on Twitter that I was in a session where they were answering questions, immediately colleagues started to send me questions to ask them). Teachers are often on the frontlines but aren’t part of the bigger picture conversations (or part of the conversations about how to solve issues.)

I have been using Medium as a source of information/place to tell stories for just over a week (since the i3 event). Its value lies in interconnectedness — it’s a place to tell your story and your organization’s story, but it is also a place to connect with others. I can read Arne Duncan’s story on moving education forward and comment directly on the story. I can see what people have highlighted (people whose opinion I value), and I can respond directly to Arne Duncan. Whether or not he responds to me is not yet know, but I know that I have an avenue to express myself. I can read about the i3 initiatives and learn what they have learned, and I can benefit from their expertise and their experience. There is now a potential path between the i3 grant organizations and schools and teachers through the Medium stories.

I also valued the opportunity to learn about Medium for my own sake. Teachers are not told how to tell their stories, and so their stories and the stories of their schools are often written by others. While the i3 recipients may be at a level where they can hire people who specialize in telling their stories, the individual stories of the people involved are also important. Tell us about your journey — what is working? What is not working? I want to be able to talk about my journey and hear about others. Voices can be heard, conversations can start, and silos can be broken down.

Thank you Medium and the ED for allowing me to crash your i3 party — I learned a lot and started conversations with people — conversations that I hope will continue online. Please continue to publish your stories, and as Gabe mentioned, please continue with stories that value the human set of interactions and communications. The ability to connect through stories will allow for more voices to be raised and to be heard — something that is sorely missing in education today.

About Jessica Lura

I am the director of teaching and learning at public K-8 charter school in Northern California. I work to integrate technology and hands-on learning into the classroom. I develop and lead professional development for my school, helping teachers develop project-based learning and design thinking units, integrate technology and digital citizenship in the classroom, and create opportunities for real world interactions and projects. For my efforts, I was named Santa Clara County's Office of Education Charter School Teacher of Year for 2013 and a 2014 Comcast All-Star Teacher. I am also a Google Certified Innovator
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