Opportunity Culture Voices: Raising My Teacher Voice

by | March 16, 2016

“What does ‘teacher voice’ actually mean? Until this year, it sounded like a nice phrase, but it didn’t hold much meaning for me.

“But I have a job I love, one that shakes up traditional teaching and holds the promise of making a huge difference in students’ and teachers lives—as it did for my students. I wanted to spread the word about my job—and now, with positions like mine under threat at my school, I needed to find my voice. I needed to empower others to explore the idea of an Opportunity Culture.”

–Nashville, Tenn., Math Multi-Classroom Leader Karen Wolfson, in Raising My Teacher Voice to Save My Job–and My Students’ Success

Last year, as the multi-classroom leader for fifth- and sixth-grade math at Bailey STEM Magnet Middle School, a high-poverty, historically low-performing school, Karen Wolfson took her teaching team and their students to new heights:

“Our school had the highest level of growth in the entire district in math in grades three through eight. My team’s two teachers overcame the long odds that the previous year’s data predicted they would face. In one grade, we were projected to have just 12 students rank as proficient or advanced. We ended the year with 43. We saw similar results in the other grade. Both teachers ended the year with the highest level of teacher effectiveness and evaluation scores.

“These teachers were new to the district, its protocols, and the Tennessee state standards, and one was a first-year teacher. Their results were practically unheard of—but under the MCL model, they felt supported and successful.”

But a coming merger of her school with a high school threatens to do away with the MCL model that Karen feels passionate about.

“I can’t let MCL positions disappear. I want to see my district provide many, many more opportunities like mine. And that’s why I took the idea of “teacher voice” very seriously—and what I found was just how powerful my voice can be.”

Read what Karen did to raise her voice, and why she intends to keep speaking up, in the latest Opportunity Culture column in Real Clear Education, and hear her thoughts on an Opportunity Culture.

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