1 Year Ago

Ok…we’re going back 3 years ago for just a moment. Like any good teacher I had the capacity to say “no” surgically removed when I got my credential and, as such, was coerced (read “volunteered”) to be part of our district’s Instructional Leadership Team (ILT) through an RGK grant. On the ILT I was trained to facilitate “Learning Walk” and “Lesson Link” (now called “Lesson Study”) – and then was instructed to run 2 of each over 2 years. I was shy, nervous, I wanted to just be left alone to teach in my classroom. I could not facilitate the amazing teachers at my school… but in the end I LOVED it and I LOVED Lesson Study!

So now onto a year ago. High on my success and enjoyment of being an instructional leader, I applied for California Teacher’s Association’s Teacher Leadership Cohort (CTA’s TLC), hoping to continue work in instruction and professional development (PD). I was accepted! And that’s where this AMAZING journey began – in Burlingame, CA in July 2013.

CTA’s TLC was funded through a National Education Association (NEA) grant. I wanted to continue to improve instruction in our schools – especially around the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). My project idea was new since our lesson study would cross schools in the district (where our RGK training was to implement this solely by school). So this became my project. You can read all about it below. It was a success! And one of my cross-school collaborators and I have been asked to present it for our district at our convocation in August.

Meanwhile at CTA TLC, we continued to meet in our regions throughout the school year. I was continually inspired by our fantastic cohort members and CTA’s Instruction and Professional Development Department (IPD). Here I thought all along that unions were only for politics and bargaining! I was never a “joiner” and never wanted to be political…but CTA has an IPD department, which I could get behind. And they run some amazing PD’s! I strongly encourage checking them out!

So in the meantime, unable to say no, I actually presented at quite a few on these conferences (remember I’m shy). And it was a blast! I got to travel, meet amazing educators, sit in on fantastic presentations, and inspire others! And so why not apply to be an NEA’s Greater Public School Network Facilitator?

Yes, I got that gig too (see previous post). I was officially a joiner! In the meantime I joined committees at our school district around the CCSS (and bargaining CCSS money) and got more involved with my local union. But, really, this last week at NEA’s RA (Representation Assembly) really takes the cake!

NEA logo

I got to go to Denver, Colorado to NEA’s RA as an “Empowered Educator” – (along with CTA TLC’s Danesa Menge)

Empowered Educator

This meant I got to participate in the “Raise Your Hand” events even though I wasn’t an elected delegate. It was a day of panels, speeches, collaboration, learning and inspiration. Lots of inspiration! We were called to raise our hands and raise our voices for Great Public Schools, Equal Opportunity, Social Justice and Student Success! And if I wasn’t empowered when I arrived, I was certainly an Empowered Educator when I left!

We also had some great training from NEA’s GPS Network and worked at the Expo to help sign up new members for NEA’s GPSNetwork – a place where all educators and stakeholders can connect, collaborate, share and learn.Un Conference


Meanwhile, my husband, an artist, stayed home and held down the fort with the kids. He also created this amazing visual that expresses the voice we all have within: (credit www.joelharrisstudio.com)


On my final day in Denver I got to attend NEA RA’s opening ceremonies where Mr. Obama even sent a video message. It was amazing! Music and dancing and confetti and beach balls and love and inspiration with about 9,000 educators from all over the country….Confetti

Me and Gaby

With my fellow CTA TLC member, Gabriela Orozco-Gonzalez who runs a great PD at http://www.commoncorecafe.blogspot.com/ and is a CTA Delegate and GPS Network’s Natalie McCutchen.

My takeaways from this week are that educators are held to a different standard. We are expected to be kind, collaborative, creative, intelligent, dedicated, hard-working, and compassionate human beings who are champions of social justice, equal opportunity and student success. And we are!

AND that if we are in education, we are political – there’s no separating it! So mark my word, I am now a joiner who will continue to use my voice to stand up for Great Public Schools and Student Success in all ways that being a mother of four will allow!

And our unions? FAR MORE than bargaining and politics – they are behind us to help us grow to be the best educators we can be! HUGE shout out to CTA and NEA for making me see the light as a mid-career educator. I have grown immensely this year! Thank you!

Great quotes from this week:

“When we begin to build the capacity of our teachers, we build the capacity of our students.” – teacher Daniella Robles

You have the power to push passions, to help healing, to hand out hope, to empower inspiration.” – Sean McComb, 2014 National Teacher of the Year

“Proceed until apprehended.” –  NEA President Dennis Van Roekel


So no, we didn’t have a chance to bask in this lovely rooftop pool in Denver, CO


But we did build a strong team of nation-wide educators who are here to facilitate groups for all stakeholders in education on the GPS Network so I hope you will join us! All funded by the NEA and here to help us be better educators and leaders!

GPS Group

Brandy Bixler, Kelly Bouteiller, Barbara Ransom, Sara Bill, Patricia Gramer Roach, Ramona Brown, Troy Rivera, Greg Hobbs

And while you’re at it you can check out my cute kiddos in my GPS stop motion “ad”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fVkDKH3kK6o

…and in the best Union News EVER! NEA elected three women of color to lead it:

President: Lily Eskelsen Garcia (who started in education as a cafeteria worker)

Vice President: Becky Pringle (amazing inspirational speaker for raising our voice)

Secretary-Treasurer: Princess Moss


Congratulations to all of us!

Next week I head to Sacramento to meet the new members of CTA’s TLC #2! I can’t wait!



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