Saturday, June 24, 2017

Growing Our Own

I cannot believe it has been 1 1/2 years since I wrote my last post here. So much has happened to me professionally during that time. Yes, I have written for other online platforms; but I have gotten out of the habit of reflecting here. I need to share what my journey has been like recently. I will soon.


I am experiencing something right now that is sparking a fire in me to write.

The Educators Rising National Conference is currently happening in Phoenix, AZ. I have the privilege of being in attendance with over 1,000 rising educators. The conference is only half way finished, but I need to write now!

Let me just say, I thought ECET2 knew how to party; but at this conference, there was a DJ and dancing before the event even kicked off Friday night!


My guess is because students are in the driver's seat. The officers are all students; they are the ones we see on the stage leading the conference, introducing the speakers, sharing their stories! POWERFUL!

According to their website, "Educators Rising cultivates highly skilled educators by guiding young people on a path to becoming accomplished teachers, beginning in high school and extending through college and into the profession."

EdRising (the only preferred shortened version of the name) is an organization that supports teenagers in becoming teachers. Chapters are established in local middle and high schools with the express purpose of growing future educators. Students receive hands-on learning experiences of what it is like to teach, and are provided clinical experiences that many future teachers do not receive until they are juniors or seniors in college! 

The organization, with the support of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards and the National Education Association, created standards that "define what high school students exploring teaching need to know and be able to do to take their first steps on the path to accomplished teaching." There is a large virtual network that students can join. They can earn micro-credentials that give them a leg up when entering college. Competitions occur throughout the nation where these rising educators can demonstrate their knowledge, skills and leadership. Recently, a curriculum was released that can be used as a resource for creating teacher pathways.

Students in this organization are considered "rising educators," not "future educators". This is because they are already immersing themselves in teaching; they are making an impact now! 

What strikes me the most about Educators Rising is the whole concept of "grow your own". This really resonates with me when I think about the critical shortage of Teachers of the Deaf, and the even greater need of teachers who are themselves deaf. 

What are we doing as a profession to encourage our youth who are Deaf, Deaf-Blind, Deaf with Disabilities, and Hard of Hearing (DDBDDHH) to join the education profession?

Sure, we may be having individual conversations with our students telling them that they would make great teachers. We might be giving students opportunities to be peer tutors with the hope they would feel what we feel whenever we help someone learn. 

But, is that enough? No!
  • We need to start creating EdRising chapters at schools for the deaf, public school cluster programs and anywhere else that might entice our deaf youth to become rising educators. 
  • We must create teaching pathways in our high schools that will lead our DDBDDHH youth into the field of deaf education. 
  • We can give these students hands-on learning experiences to serve as language models to our youth, to feel our burning desire to make an impact in children's lives.

There is more we need to do beyond that.
  • We must do more to raise their literacy levels so they can pass the required PRAXIS or other exams needed to enter into college programs or to receive teacher certification. 
  • We must fight for alternative pathways for them to enter teacher prep programs or to become certified by eliminating the audistic barriers to these exams.

The future of education is at the hands of today's youth. Let's ignite a fire in them to pursue the best profession on earth - teaching!

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