Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Don't Be Isolated

It has been a very long time since I have written on my blog.  I have been busy being a wife, mother of 4, and teacher.  I have been busy being a student in a Director of Special Education certification program, writing columns for Kentucky Teacher, creating products for TeachersPayTeachers, acting as president for Kentucky Educators for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, and using my voice whenever possible to advocate for high quality education for deaf and hard of hearing students.

A few weeks ago I was invited to attend the Elevating and Celebrating Effective Teaching and Teachers Conference in Lexington, KY.  During this day long event sponsored by The Fund for Transforming Education in Kentucky, I learned what it truly means to be a Teacher Leader. 

Session leaders and facilitators were from the Hope Street Group, Center for Teaching Quality, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. 

Irvin Scott, Deputy Director at the Gates Foundation, had all of us on our feet singing, "I've got a feelin'...that we're making a difference in kids' lives." 

You can read these blog posts to learn more about what happened at the conference.

The most important lesson I learned from the conference was that isolation is the enemy of effective teaching.  This rang true to me because teachers of the deaf and hard of hearing frequently feel isolated.  Most are the only DHH teacher in their entire school district and may not have a colleague in a neighboring district.  I am fortunate to work in a district where there are two other DHH teachers with whom I can communicate and collaborate.

DHH teachers are overcoming their isolation by attending DHH cadre meetings across KY, becoming members of KYEDHH and serving on the Board, going to any PD available related to educating DHH children, and using technology to connect.

This is not enough, though.  What else can be done so that DHH teachers have a readily available PLN of other DHH teachers in KY and elsewhere?

When DHH teachers have the opportunity to collaborate, to communicate, to network, they have the ability to provide higher quality education to students who are deaf and hard of hearing. 

When DHH teachers reach out and look for support and engage other DHH teachers in solutions-based discussions, they are then better able to make decisions guided by student outcomes than what is easiest for the teachers.

When DHH teachers look to other DHH teachers to be virtual or onsite peer observers, they are more able to focus on relevant professional growth and learning.

DHH teachers, don't be satisfied with your daily routine and isolation.  Reach out and collaborate.  Find your leader voice and connect for the betterment of all our students.  Join me in giving DHH teachers and DHH children a voice; become a teacher leader!

Here is one final blog that explains what being a teacher leader truly means.