On Teaching and The Educator Collective

Harold Hogue, Author

Harold Hogue, Author

In 23 years, my mother raised 2,300 students plus my sisters and me. For more than two decades, she has woken up at 4:45 am to make sure breakfast was cooked, clothes were ironed, and our homework was ready to turn in before she drove off to one of the most underserved areas in my hometown, Indianapolis, to teach her English class. She still thrives off the phone calls that come years later that say, "Thank You, Ms. Hogue" and the social media posts that say, "Without you, I couldn't have done it." She has lived a life empowering others, but as a former educator, I've always asked myself, "Whose job is it to empower the teacher?"


"Whose job is it to empower the teacher?"


There's no questioning the work that teachers do day in and day out takes an incredible amount of skill and surgical precision. In my experience, most people that encounter a teacher ask something of them. The babies need their love, attention, and knowledge; the administration needs them always to be improving; the parents want to know how their child is doing, and the list continues. When I was teaching, I felt months go by before anyone outside of my family would ask, "What can I do for you?" 


"TEC exists to uplift, connect, and empower our world’s most valuable servant leaders."


The Educator Collective is a group that asks that question. TEC exists to uplift, connect, and empower our world’s most valuable servant leaders. It is a community built around the notion that teachers deserve a space and a network that allows them to grow and plug into areas outside of the school building. Every conversation at TEC centers around one key question - "what do teachers need to grow personally and professionally, and how can we give it to them?”  To help answer that question, TEC's board of directors is made up of teachers and school leaders that lend a voice to guide the organization in defining how they should approach supporting a diverse cohort of educators.  

 

True innovation is rare. The Educator Collective is indeed starting something special by choosing to focus on empowering teachers like my mom who give so much of themselves to this work and to their students. 

 

Harold Hogue
Regional Manager, Enriched Schools
Former DISD Science Teacher

The Humble Classroom

Author: Sterling Hill

Author: Sterling Hill

In the midst of stark division in this country, we will begin another school year in August with the most malleable of all citizens sitting right in front of us. I shift between great excitement about education’s potential- innovative school design, personalized learning; and fear and anger- college readiness rates in the 30s, low student engagement.

Being an educator is a precariously humbling position to be in. Our careers rest in the hands of undeveloped brains and overstimulated hormones. Nevertheless, I am convinced that all students are created with immense value and that education gives these children opportunities to reach their potential.

I begin the school year with a basic question- How can we best serve our students THIS school year?

More than anything, our classrooms need a dose of humility. The lack of humility in our classrooms and in our education system as a whole is pervasive. We see this in stagnant teaching methods, in student’s lack of respect for authority, and in authoritarian decision making in the classroom. Andy Smarick of the American Enterprise Institute “Dignity Project,” asks our question like this- How do we approach public education so a “deep respect for human dignity is our default setting?” In other words, how can we build a culture of respect and humility in our classrooms?

Humility is about respecting others because they might be right and you might be wrong. Teach For America defines this idea as “asset-based thinking.” Let us look at a student’s assets before we ever consider their deficits. Assume they are kind. Assume they desire to learn. Assume their intentions are positive. The most powerful moments I have had as a teacher have come when, in front of the class, I have admitted I am wrong.  Teacher vulnerability breeds student vulnerability which breeds trust which breeds engagement.

Social media, parents, and past experiences all alter how students think and how students respond to teaching. This year, consider that what has worked in the past may not work with students in 2017. It will take humility and self-reflection to consider the individual needs of our students. A recent study completed by the Fordham Institute and Crux Research stated that students are likely to fit into one of six categories- hand raisers, social butterflies, deep thinkers, subject lovers, emotionals, and teacher responders. Over 90% of students surveyed stated that they desired to learn and to be engaged in the classroom. I implore you to consider your students when planning this year. Ask students how you could be a better teacher. Ask more questions in the classroom. This indicates to your students that you don’t have all the answers and that you trust them to take responsibility for their learning.

How we educate our children is foundational to their understanding of the world and their place in it.  Education drives culture. So cheers to 2017-2018! It’s a new year-- ripe for a humble start.

Sterling Hill
Teacher | Department Chair
Highland Park High School 

Interview With Luis Juarez

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What motivated you to become a teacher?

I have first-hand experience of the effect that an inspiring teacher can have in the life of a student. Specific teachers kept me from falling through the cracks of the educational system – immigrant, low socioeconomic status, male and Latino are unfortunately factors that, according to experts in the field, stacked the odds against me. It is thanks to those teachers that worked with me that I am the person I am today; their drive to reach me beyond the classroom inspired me to work hard and beat those odds. These experiences motivated me to do the same for students as an educator.

What has been the highlight of your teaching career so far?

My life experiences have helped me forge meaningful connections with students and their families. One key aspect for every successful classroom is being able to reach your students at multiple levels – from home visits to mediating conflicts between classmates, I have managed to reach a healthy balance that makes my classroom a safe learning space. In July 2015, I was one of nine DACAmented educators to be honored at the White House as a Champion of Change for my work in the field – this distinction has truly been the highlight of my teaching career. 


TEC recognizes the value in my work as a professional in education – this has been a determining factor in my commitment to the field.

How has TEC improved your experience as an early-career educator?

It is easy to feel like your work goes unnoticed in this field, however, that has hardly been the case for me. TEC has given me an opportunity to help me grow professionally through specific workshops and personally by facilitating a space to strengthen ties with my colleagues. TEC recognizes the value in my work as a professional in education – this has been a determining factor in my commitment to the field.

What would you say to a teacher thinking about joining TEC?

Support in the early stages of a teaching career fundamental for long-term success. TEC is a support system that adds strength to your development as an educator and continuously values your efforts in and out of the classroom. In order to better serve your students, you need to take care of yourself – TEC will equip you with skills needed to be in optimum condition for the classroom and for life.


 

Early-Career Teachers need a space for community, encouragement and professional growth. Join TEC Today!