One year ago I was invited to apply to become a Michigan Educator Voice Fellow. Like many who received twitter and e-mail invitations to apply? I was a bit skeptical, but curious. Reading the description: “Be a leader, Use your voice, Elevate the conversation.” I felt it seemed similar to the goal of the #michED community of fostering a positive imagine of education, while raising voice of educators. I had to apply. I was accepted.
Once accepted I was still curious to what this Fellowship would entail. Friend questioned the funding and wondered if we would elevate our voice or the voice of a special interest groups. Would I have to say things I didn’t believe? Would I have to sell snake oil? Valid questions of the unknown running through my mind as I drove to Lansing for the initial convening last November. Curiosity caught my attention, I had to find out the answers, knowing that I could back out if I didn’t believe in the voice I was asked to raise.
Arriving in Lansing I met incredible educators from all over the state, as we gathered many of us had similar concerns of the unknown. Quickly these concerns were answered. We were to elevate OUR voice in support of OUR passions sharing OUR experience. The fellowship provides support, connections, and delivery methods to TEACHERS’ voice. They provided training in message writing, social media and contact with legislators. Giving format models for us to follow and tools to use. Never once did they tell us WHAT to say. We were instead instructed to say what WE BELIEVE.
The year went quickly in the fellowship. I received support from the leadership and 49 other fellows. A weekly e-mail blast shared what we were doing with all fellows. We supported each other via twitter, blogs and at conferences. Many opportunities arose due to the fellowship for me to share my educator voice. I was sad to see the year come to an end.
Lucky, I was asked to be a LEAD FELLOW for 2015-2016. I get to share my voice about the state of teacher evaluations in Michigan. I will be working with teachers, administrators and stakeholder groups to lead our legislators to revisit the Michigan Council for Educator Effectiveness report of 2013. Michigan needs a top notch education evaluation system for our students, teachers and administrators. Senate Bill 103 does not provide us with one. Leaving evaluations up to local control with NO state model and NO local bargaining means districts can have unfair, biased evaluation systems.
Find your educator voice. Speak from your experience to make our states education systems better for students and educators. Follow Michigan Education Voice Fellows to see what they are sharing their voice about. Never be ashamed to share your voice, just make sure your respect others and their opinions.