Today I had an opportunity to present an afternoon talk at the University of Nottingham on Teacher Leadership in the USA. The attendees were impressed with the dedicated and passionate teacher-leaders I shared with them, like my friends Alice Dominguez (pictured below, in the middle) and Holly Jordan, who change the world through their activism and empowerment of students. Both teach in the Durham Public Schools district and work so hard at making our schools safe places for our kids, as well as helping to lift up other teachers through programs they facilitate.
In my presentation, I talked about the different ways teachers can become leaders and the various roles they can play in their schools and communities. The climate of a school can fluctuate with administration change, so having strong leadership amongst the teachers is a way to create stability, as well as foster growth and change.
The audience seemed most interested in how different the educational systems were between New York and North Carolina (I was sharing the commonalities and differences of the teacher leadership roles I’d experienced in my career.) and they asked numerous questions during the Q&A at the end. Since the audience consisted of professors and international graduate students from many countries, we had a wealth of experiences to share. Many talked with me later about how national ministries of education in their home country have a strong role in the schools, creating a uniformity across the country.
One of the surprises for me was the large turnout. The professor who organized it said they usually get only about five (5!) attendees, but a couple of dozen came to hear about teachers at the helm in the USA.
The other surprise? It was a catered luncheon! I was too nervous to eat that morning, so seeing the delicious food helped bolster me. After I was done, I visited with a professor and had a proper bite – a cucumber and cream cheese sandwich on a grain bread with a nice cup of tea.
My next presentation this month is on cross-curricular instruction and the common core. I’m looking forward to meeting more of the students and professors here at Nottingham!