Make Them Hear You

STOY Group Selfie
The 2016 State Teachers of the Year


Part Three of #NTOY16

On our third day of the 2016 National Teacher of the Year Convening, the State Teachers of the Year (STOYs) were introduced to Katherine Bassett, the Executive Director of the National Network of State Teachers of the Year (NNSTOY). Along with several representatives from NNSTOY, Katherine asked us to define leadership. She then shared the reasons why teacher leaders are needed in our schools. This was followed by an introduction to the Teacher Leader Model Standards.

Next, we were able to select a breakout session. I chose to attend NNSTOY’s workshop on “Messaging Activities”. During this session, we were asked to examine the process of change. We also learned how to organize and plan our activities so that we could best bring about the changes we would like to see in education.

Following lunch, the STOYs took part in media training with Melissa McGrath from the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). After giving tips for successful media interviews, Melissa asked us to read a scenario regarding education. In smaller groups, we answered interview questions based on that scenario.

After the media training, we were able to select another breakout session. For this one, I selected Hope Street Group’s “Building Relationships”. Along with listing educational organizations that can aid us in our endeavors, they helped us to identify ways to build connections with policy makers. They also pointed out that “one conversation changes nothing”. We need to be consistently speaking with policy makers in order to build relationships.

The STOYs returned to our homerooms for our last session. This time my homeroom was led by Sarah Brown Wessling, 2010 National Teacher of the Year. She asked to reflect on the past three days and our paths moving forward.

Friday evening was a great celebration as the STOYs attended the Formal Banquet. During the dinner, the Director of the National Teacher of the Year Program, Jon Quam, shared with us the history of the program. We also celebrated the four finalists for the 2016 National Teacher of the Year. Then, Shanna Peeples, 2015 National Teacher of the Year, spoke. She called each of us “dragon slayers” and said, “Who you decide to speak about is who you decide to speak for.” As she spoke, I thought of the song, “Make Them Hear You”, from Ragtime. Her words were a rallying cry for us to “Go out and tell our story. Let it echo far and wide. Make them hear you”.

On our last day, we were asked to think of a story that best illustrates who we are as teachers. Like speed dating, we went around the room telling our story and noticing the slight variations in our storytelling as we moved along. The hardest part was then condensing this story into six words. After we each shared our six-word story, Sarah Brown Wessling ended with, “You’re ready. Walk through that door.” It was a powerful moment as each of us had truly undergone a transformation during the conference.

Now, I look forward to implementing all that I learned during the conference so that I can make a difference in education in Louisiana.


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