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U.S. Sec. of Education: My National Teacher Appreciation Week Wish List
By Pamela Moreland
In observance of National Teacher Appreciation Week, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said he wanted to find a way to help teachers be the leaders in the nation’s transition to higher learning standards. He asked “policymakers, district leaders and principals” to:
- Find opportunities for teachers to lead this work. There is far too much talent and expertise in our teaching force that is hidden in isolated classrooms and not reaching as far as it can to bring the system forward. Teachers and leaders must work together to create opportunities for teacher leadership, including shared responsibility, and that means developing school-level structures for teachers to activate their talents. This may mean reducing teaching loads to create “hybrid” roles for teachers in which they both teach and lead.
- Find, make visible and celebrate examples of making this transition well. Teachers often tell me they’re looking for examples of how to do this right. Let’s spotlight teachers and schools that are leading the way.
- Use your bully pulpit — and share that spotlight with a teacher. Whether you are a principal, superintendent, elected leader, parent or play some other role, you have a voice. Learn about this transition, and use your voice to help make this transition a good experience for teachers, students, and families. Especially important is educating families about what to expect and why it matters. Invite a teacher to help you tell the story and answer questions.
- Be an active, bold part of improving pre-service training and professional development, and make sure that all stages of a teacher’s education reflect the new instructional world they will inhabit. Teachers deserve a continuum of professional growth; that means designing career lattices so that teaching offers a career’s worth of dynamic opportunities for impacting students.
- Read and take ideas from the RESPECT Blueprint, a plan released in April containing a vision for an elevated teaching profession. The blueprint reflects a vision shaped by more than a year’s worth of intimate discussions the department convened with some 6,000 teachers about transforming their profession. Teaching is the nation’s most important work, and it’s time for concrete steps that treat it that way — RESPECT offers a blueprint to do that.
“Don’t get me wrong — teachers deserve a week of celebration with plenty of baked goods. But I hear, often, that this is a time that teachers want some extra support,” Duncan concluded. “They deserve real, meaningful help — not just this week, but all year long.”