This is cross-posted, with permission, from the Center for Teaching Quality. It provided much of the inspiration and ties directly to some of the aspects of the legislation passed in Iowa in the 2013 session. Dave speaks more eloquently than I do, but this will impact ALL Iowa teachers in one way or another. Take the time to look.
Stop reading this post. Stop right now. Click on this link and buy yourself a copy ofTeacherpreneurs: Innovative Teachers Who Lead But Don’t Leave. Come back when you're done. The post will be right here waiting for you…
Cool! Welcome back!
If you are a teacher who wants to effect positive change in your school, district, or state; if you don’t want to leave your classroom and your kids to do this; if you’ve often thought, “There has to be a way to do both,” then this book might be the best thing you read this year.
Clearly, I love this book, so let me tell you why I bought two copies. First, I was impatient. When I first heard about this book, I got so excited, that I pre-ordered a copy. Then, I found out that the Kindle version was available several weeks before the hard copy would be released, so I bought that one and devoured it in only a few days, thinking about colleagues of mine who need to read this book. When my pre-ordered copy arrived, I thought, “Sweet! Loaner copy!”
I wish there had been a concept like “teacherpreneur” fifteen years ago as I was starting my career.
I’ve been doing teacher leadership for over a decade:
Training student-teachers from the local university;
Heading our accreditation process or strategic planning;
Serving as a union leader; and
Influencing policy makers to pass school-reform legislation that would be good for kids.
In every one of those incarnations of teacher-leadership, I have always been a full-time teacher, working 10-11 hour days. I would engage in the leadership half of my role in the evenings and on weekends. Equally exhausted and exhilarated, I would often wonder if there might not be a better way. In Teacherpreneurs, the authors show us that teachers can be site, district, state, and even national leaders while keeping a foot firmly grounded in their classrooms and keeping their sanity.
Perhaps the section I found most powerful were the chapters detailing the stories of several of the Center for Teaching Quality's teacherpreneurs. Barnett and his team pull no punches and forgo any sugar coating. They share frankly the successes, challenges, lessons, and barriers they’ve encountered over the past three years as they’ve designed and implemented this new classification of educator.
The core idea of the book is one that the folks at the Center for Teaching Quality unveiled in their first book, Teaching 2030. “Teacherpreneurs” are teacher leaders who have hybrid positions. They work one full-time job, but within that one job, they are in front of a classroom full of students part time, then doing the leadership (or “-preneur”) aspect of their job part time.
A teacherpreneur might include a high-school teacher who teaches in the morning, then writes, organizes, and delivers the districts professional development in the afternoons. She might also be a middle-school teacher who teaches classes at the local university, training the next generation of teachers, before arriving at her school to teach 7th graders in the afternoon. He might also be an elementary school teacher who hands his class over to his partner-teacher on Wednesdays, so he can spend the rest of the week at the state capitol, advising law-makers on educational policy.
If one of these teacherpreneurs sounds like you, or if hearing about these possibilities, you imagine your dream teacher-leader role, then this book is for you. When you read, if you are seriously interested in creating your dream role, don’t skip over the exercise and discussion sections that complete each chapter. These sections can help you plan your way to your dream role.
Shameless plug: There are discussion communities on CTQ’s Collaboratory and on Facebookthat are engaging in activities connected to the content at the end of each chapter.
Additionally, read the appendix. Barnett and the team thoughtfully include examples of a teacherpreneur job description, a memorandum of understanding between a school district and an outside organization about how the two would share a teacherpreneur, and other valuable resources.
Teacher leaders, buy this book. Heck, buy two like I did and have a loaner! We shouldn’t have to choose between our classrooms and kids and the opportunities to share our expertise with our schools, districts, and states. It’s time for a smarter, more sustainable concept of teacher leadership. It’s time for teacherpreneurs.