The Beauty of Empowerment

July 3, 2012 at 11:08 pm Leave a comment

Collaboration. Motivation. Inspiration.These are the characteristics  I think of when I think of education. The kind of education I enjoy, the type of education I want to provide for others.  My colleagues and I have been busy providing professional development for ALL of the elementary teachers, grades k-5 in our district on the Common Core State Standards for Math and English/Language Arts.  So busy, that I haven’t had a chance to take a deep breath and reflect on how it’s going thus far.  But last week, a little reprieve came, just as the temperatures here in the Southeast started to rise.  When it’s hot, it’s hot;  but I want to tell you about another HOT topic… teachers problem solving, collaborating, and creating!

In my district we believe teachers are the designers of quality and engaging work for students.  Some appreciate this, others don’t.  Let’s face it, designing curriculum is hard work, it’s time consuming, but oh so rewarding!  Last week   an opportunity was provided for teachers to come together, collaborate, revise, and create problematic tasks and assessment tools that they could use in their classroom.  Last summer teachers came together to write problems for our district Problematic Task Bank, and that was just the tip of the iceberg.  This year we didn’t want people to reinvent the wheel, we wanted these teachers to see that 1 problem can be tiered and differentiated to fit various needs of learners.  In addition, we wanted the minds of different grade levels to work together in hopes of helping teachers develop their own mathematical thinking when considering the various levels of students they teach.  It was a beautiful thing!  That’s it.  Just as I’ve gotten chills, while witnessing the light bulbs going off in the minds of students, this time, the teachers I was working with had a glow in their eyes, and excitement in their expressions as they learned from one another, shared ideas, and empowered themselves!

I am a firm believer in empowering others, as is my colleague.  After all, that’s good leadership. In addition to empowering the classroom teachers who came that day, we empowered three teacher leaders by asking them to lead the professional development.  I felt like a proud parent watching these three ladies as they planned and created for weeks, and then executed such a powerful session!  It was a beautiful thing! So beautiful I wanted someone else to see it, I wanted  someone else from the Instruction Department to see this, I wanted principals and other teachers to see it, I wanted to show it to you.  Teachers walked away at the end of the day feeling empowered.  Empowered to be GREAT math teachers, and empowered to be leaders in their schools!  If  teachers can feel this way, surely it will flow over into their students, and that is A BEAUTIFUL THING!

Times are exciting in the field of education right now, and I’m grateful to be part of it, grateful for the opportunities I’ve been given on this journey. Now I ‘m able to provide similar opportunities to other educators, and that is empowering! Lou Holtz, the great football coach for Notre Dame once said, “On your headstone, it’s not the year you were born, or the year you die, but rather the dash in the middle that matters”, and that is what I think of right now, not because I think of death, but I’m thinking of my next steps in the field of education. Never complacent, and averaging 3 to 4 years in a role, I’m thinking of the impact I have while I’m in a role. For now, I’m thinking of the impact I’ve had on the teaching and learning of mathematics;  Collaborating with others.  Motivating others. Inspiring others.

What impact do you have in your role? What beautiful things have you witnessed in education?

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Common Core Training My Journey Continues

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Kristen Hahn

July 2012
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