July 17, 2013

Stepping out of the teacher's lounge

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Lindsay Korn is an E4E-New York Outreach Director.

I have always believed that one of the most important places in a school is the teacher’s lounge. It’s the place where teachers take reprieve during lunch, plan their lessons with their grade team partners, or just sneak in a few minutes of quiet before having to go back to class.

And sometimes it’s the place where all of the venting happens.

As a classroom teacher for 7 years, I often participated in teacher’s lounge venting sessions because they were the only outlet I had to express my thoughts and ideas about education.

However, I started to ask myself: What if teachers across the country stepped out of their teacher’s lounges and had these conversations in their communities? Or with their principals? Or with the people who were actually making the decisions about education policy?

Everyday, E4E is providing the platform for teachers to “step out of the teacher’s lounge” and share their voices about issues that affect their work with their students, without having to leave the classroom.

As an Outreach Director, I have the privilege of meeting teachers who want to change the course of our profession. One of the best parts about my job is that I get to develop teacher leaders who believe strongly that collective action is the only way to ensure a quality education for every student.

From the teacher’s lounge to the podium

What I love most about my job is when I get to see a teacher engage directly with a policy decision-maker and ask them the tough questions that need to be asked. In New York, we had an event called Critical Questions, where three E4E School Captains - Annie Gallagher, Chris Fazio and Vailala Salazar-Gregory - had the opportunity to sit on a panel with New York State Education Commissioner John King. Annie, Chris and Vailala shared their stories from the classroom and asked questions about everything from teacher evaluation to the Common Core.

My favorite part of the night was looking down at the auditorium from the top and seeing 150 other teachers taking notes, and asking questions, too. Those teachers had all “stepped out of the teachers lounge” to ask questions and be heard, and planned to bring that information back to their school communities to keep them informed.

Creating a local teacher’s lounge

As an E4E Outreach Director, I have the opportunity to help create a local teacher’s lounge where teachers are coming up with solutions to our toughest issues everyday.

When teachers engage in conversations in their schools, in their communities, or in the media, they help elevate the teaching profession to one where society will have to listen.

To join Lindsay in helping teachers to share their voices, apply for a career at E4E.