Speaker Series with Taylor Toynes / Recap


Taylor Toynes was born and raised in the 75216 “super block” in South Oak Cliff.  It’s his home, his neighborhood, and the community he has been called to serve. As a Victims Advocate in the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office, as a 4th grade teacher at W.W. Bushman Elementary School, and now as the founder and executive director of For Oak Cliff, Taylor has made an all-in commitment to empowering the people and places that make up the super block.

From GED classes, to civic engagement workshops, to a back to school festival in the summer, For Oak Cliff offers a holistic approach to community empowerment.  And while its scope is broad, For Oak Cliff’s impact is laser-focused. Taylor, and the men, women and children who work with him, have made the powerfully simple decision to take ownership of the community they call home.  The 75216 super block is that home and they are answering the call - a call common to all of us - to ensure its flourishing.

As TEC endeavors to explore the ways teachers can become advocates for their schools, students, and communities, there is perhaps no better example from which to learn than For Oak Cliff and Taylor Toynes.  We count ourselves lucky to have had Taylor join us as the lead presenter at our Spring Speaker Series event on Friday, February 23rd. After hearing from Mike Koprowski (founder and executive director, Opportunity Dallas) in October, we wrapped up the 2017-2018 Speaker Series cycle with a compelling message from one of our city’s bright, young servant-leaders.

We at TEC are inspired by the noble work Taylor is doing in south Dallas, and we are beyond grateful for the wisdom he was willing to share with our members, staff, and supporters at the Spring Speaker Series.  We are eager to see how our members apply his advice and encouragement as they work to become advocates for the communities and schools in which they live and work. If you are a TEC member and would like to find out more about opportunities for advocacy, please contact us.

Future Teachers Summit


On Saturday, January 13th, TEC had the privilege of hosting two seminars at the TeachDFW Future Teachers Summit at the University of North Texas – Dallas.  The Summit provided prospective educators from across the metroplex with the opportunity to gather valuable information, resources, and relationships as they prepare to enter the profession.  TEC was honored to stand shoulder to shoulder with many other stellar organizations at this half-day event, as we introduced ourselves to an inspiring group of future educators.

Our host at the Future Teacher Summit, TeachDFW, is an organization committed to empowering leaders across Dallas-Fort Worth to enter the teaching field with confidence and complete preparation.  Beyond providing answers to key questions (e.g. how much does a teacher make?  where should I teach?), TeachDFW also connects future educators with stellar teacher prep programs, many of whom - Urban Teachers, Teach For America, and Dallas Teacher Residency, etc. - TEC is honored to count as valuable organizational partners.

At the Summit, TEC hosted two 45 minutes seminars.  Participants who attended the TEC seminars learned that “It Pays to Teach,” as our longtime friend and financial coach Robert Hunt discussed the in’s and out’s of teacher salaries and retirement savings plans.  From monthly budgeting to selecting the lowest cost retirement plan, Robert equipped his audiences with powerful resources that will help them make the most out of the compensation and benefits currently offered to entry-level teachers.

TEC always wants to be at the vanguard of individuals and organizations who are serious about educators becoming the best they can be.  We want to be a part of a collective effort to fully equip, encourage, and empower those who have been called to this noblest of professions.  To that end we are grateful that TeachDFW, who shares in this conviction, would allow us to be a part of such a meaningful and well-executed event.  More than anything we are grateful for the chance to get to know the men and women who attended The Summit as they prepare to embark on their careers as teachers.  Best of luck to each of you!

Advisory Board Announcement


At TEC we want our members to play an integral role in leading the organization into the future.  We have a vision for a vibrant professional community this fiercely relevant and valuable to the teachers it serves, and we are convinced that this vision can only become a reality if that community is led by the teachers themselves.  

To that end we are excited to announce the formation of The Educator Collective Advisory Board, a council of educators that will serve as TEC’s core column of leadership. These educators will be an indispensable resource as we plan future programming and recruit members.  

We have started the Advisory Board with five committed TEC members, all noted below. However, our vision is to add more educators in the months and years ahead. If you are interested in this unique leadership opportunity, please do not hesitate to contact us.


Join us in congratulating this year's appointees.


Taylor Henry
Woodrow Wilson High School


Joi Bowers
Billy Earl Dade Middle School


Shafarion Romashyn
Dan D. Rogers Elementary School


Erika Shisler
Thomas C. Marsh Preparatory Academy

TEC Workshops: Professional Development With Kindra Knight


While we openly admit that The Educator Collective team isn’t equipped to provide professional development, we also aim to provide any support we can for our teachers. Our ultimate mission being to keep the most excellent teachers in the highest need classrooms, we want to make sure early career educators feel supported in every way we can. We already provide networking opportunities (social events for teachers and other professionals to share stories and knowledge and to relax and rejuvenate), personal development workshops, and connections to leadership opportunities.

As we move into a new year and a new semester with our educators, we’re branching out (and reaching out) into a new realm. We partnered with Teach For America Alumna Kindra Knight to facilitate some incredible professional development centered around pedagogy and practice in the classroom. Formerly a TFA Coach and Professional Learning Leader, Kindra is now a coach and adjunct professor with Urban Teachers and John’s Hopkins University. While her own teaching experience was in high school Biology, she’s coached teachers across all grade levels and subjects, and planned a session that can be applied anywhere--Beyond the Worksheet.

Thanks to everyone to came out--we hope you’ve already started using some of the great ways Kindra shared to practice new material and review old material with students. If you weren’t able to make it, I’ve shared below three of the practice methods we saw attendees getting most excited about:

1. Speed Dating, in which students are seated on opposite sides of desks in one long row. At the start of practice, each student in the row receives a different problem and then has X amount of minutes to become a expert on the type of problem or at the skill. After time is up, students switch problems with the student directly across from them, and begin attempting a new problem. If they get stuck, they have the expert in that problem sitting right across from them! Once students complete their new problem, all of the students on ONE side of the table stand and move one seat to the right, and switch with their new ”date”. This cycle continues until every student has tried every problem!

2. Expert Practice. Ever get new students added your class suddenly and not know for sure what they’ve mastered? This is a great opportunity to engage your old students while being sure your new students are all caught up. Divide your rosters ahead of time based on concept mastery, and determine which students will play the role of ‘teacher’ and which will be ‘students’ (you want to have an even number of each if possible). Build practice with chunks of notes and practice questions included for the teachers to use to “teach” their student and then go through practice with their student. After each “chunk” of material, do a quick practice game, like whiteboard, but only allow the “student” in each partner pair to answer. The better the “teacher” does as teaching, the more points they’ll get!

3. Would You Rather? Students get to form an opinion based on information they already know or have recently learned.

If there’s some aspect of instruction or planning you’d like some focused PD on from The Educator Collective, let us know by emailing kate@educatorcollective.org and she’ll find a facilitator with the expertise!

If you would like to reach out to Kindra Knight about doing PD at your campus or about working together one-on-one, you can email her at knight.kindra@gmail.com.

2017 Review/2018 Preview

2017 Review/2018 Preview


As we close the book on 2017 and look forward to the opportunities of a new year, I want to offer my sincerest thanks to the members, donors, and partners of The Educator Collective. 2017 was TEC’s inaugural year, and it was a fruitful one thanks to the unique contributions made by each one of you. From the commitment of our members, to the generosity of our donors and the support of our partners, you have all made us better and helped put us on a path to success. We are building something special at TEC – a vibrant community of talented teaching professionals – and I am eager to stand next to you as the work continues in a new year.

As successful as 2017 was for
TEC and its members,
2018 promises to be even better.

Looking back, I could not be happier with the foundation we were able to lay in 2017. After a summer recruiting effort across 7 DISD campuses, we began the school year with a little over 75 members. From August to December we were able grow that membership base by over 75%, ending the year with 132 members across 13 campuses. Throughout the year we offered several opportunities for our members to expand their networks and grow in their careers.

  • We hosted two TEC Socials in 2017. In early-September we kicked off the school year at Sandbar Cantina and Grill, where our members were able to meet one another over drinks and sand volleyball. We wrapped up the year with our Ugly Christmas Sweater Brunch at The Eberhard, our most well-attended event of the year. Here members were able to tie a bow on the fall semester over mimosas and a full brunch buffet.
  • We were honored to partner with some outstanding organizational partners for our TEC Workshops & Speaker Series in 2017.
  • In October, our members gathered at Common Desk Deep Ellum for a cocktail hour and presentation from Mike Koprowski, former DISD Chief of Transformation and Innovation and current Executive Director of Opportunity Dallas.
  • November saw 15 lucky TEC members go through a half-day “Identity Mapping” session at Tyler Station with local executive coach and personal development expert, Rocky Garza.
  • Personal finance was the topic of conversation at our December workshop, where Robert Hunt from Robert Hunt Financial, LLC answered the question “how should an educator begin their financial journey?”
  • TEC Community Leadership opportunities abounded in 2017 as we worked to connect our members with an array of local nonprofits and education-focused organizations. One member even leveraged the TEC network to join the board of directors of a regional nonprofit specializing in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education. More on this in a later blog post!

As successful as 2017 was for TEC and its members, 2018 promises to be even better. Thanks to the tireless work of Kate Benson, director of operations, and our entire board of directors, we have a full plate of engaging programing planned for the year ahead.

We will be featuring and working with a handful of new partners in 2018, including Kindra Knight (Teacher Coach and Adjunct Professor, Johns Hopkins University), Taylor Toynes (Executive Director, For Oak Cliff), and Leadership ISD. And, always, we are thrilled to offer plenty of opportunities to unwind and build relationships at our 2018 socials (be on the lookout for our Bowl & Barrel Happy Hour in March!).

Thank you all again for such a fulfilling 2017. Thanks to you the sky's the limit as we head into 2018, look to grow the TEC community, and continue working towards our goal of building lasting and accomplished careers in public education.

Robert Taylor
TEC, Founder & Executive Director