The School Reform Initiative creates transformational learning communities fiercely committed to educational equity and excellence. Patrice Dawkins-‐Jackson PERSONAL STORY My life was forever changed after my first training through the School Reform Initiative. I felt as if I received a new sense of awareness that I had never experienced in professional development previously. It was new and refreshing. I loved it and from that point forward, this work has been a special part of me. My journey with SRI started when I was trained to be a participant of a Critical Friends Group. It was about nine years ago as I was approaching my second year of teaching. I was reluctant, but quickly allowed the organic and meaningful process to transform me. I learned so much about myself, the importance of being introspective. I learned how essential it is to listen, truly listen. I learned to hear beyond the words that were said. I learned to how to ask meaningful and probing questions I learned about the power of reflection. I remember crying after the last day because I did not want it to end. For me, it did not end. I continued to attend trainings. I wanted to practice what I preach. I am a life-‐long learner and I understood that I had to model this for our teachers and students. I decided to take the approach I learned to transform our teacher induction program and process. It was extremely successful. Thankfully, I began to apprentice under Connie Zimmerman and Susan Taylor. Through my apprenticeship, I was able to learn and grow in so many ways. I felt like I was blossoming. I continued to implement the work with new teachers as a Critical Friends Group leader. I was able to share how this approach would be helpful in supporting new as well as veteran teachers. Our CFGs became a standard for effective implementation and were often highlighted in research conducted at the university. I utilize the structures in my classroom to impact class climate and student achievement. Together, we created norms to create classroom culture that was conducive to optimal learning and risk taking. I shared them with our entire staff to help shape our school culture. I have witnessed the power of this work first hand. I have seen how it can unite a team that was having difficulty understanding each other. I have seen students participate in protocols that have been adapted to deepen their understanding of content. I have watched norms creation transform chaotic meetings into structured, meaningful and productive working session. I know that this approach works. I have witnessed the a-‐ha moments; moments when new understandings, connections and discoveries are made. There is power in this work. I have heard questions that have sparked discussions that would have never happened if the question were not asked. I have seen teachers come together to take on another teacher’s student to support them in providing strategies 1550 Larimer Street, Box 257 | Denver, CO 80202 www.schoolreforminitiative.org and insights about that student. I have seen constructive feedback given in a way that feels purposeful and non-‐punitive. All of this is because my experience as a facilitator for SRI. I believe it. I have for nine years and will continue believing. This work must continue. I will help it continue. STATEMENT OF INTEREST I am interested in becoming a part of the SRI board because I feel teacher voice is necessary for any reform efforts concerning education. We are the reform for education. I feel that I have an interesting prospective to share because I am a teacher that utilizes several aspects of this work to impact our class culture and student achievement. I believe that I have several strengths that I could bring to the board including my network on teacher leaders and organizations. From my work as a Teacher Ambassador Fellow, I have conducted partner outreach and facilitated several roundtable discussions with successful outcomes. In my experience, I feel like the greatest achievement SRI has made was providing the resource materials online at no cost. Oftentimes, I refer student teachers, new teachers and veteran teachers to visit the site for protocols and activities that they can use. They usually report back to share that the site is user-‐friendly, has a tremendous amount of resources and would be a place that they would revisit because of the quality of the resources. I believe the greatest challenge that SRI faces is recruiting more people to do this work, especially teachers. If I was a classroom teacher who is new at my school and no one shared the SRI website with me, how would I know about it? I think that there needs to be a bigger push to market or spread the word about SRI. We need more teachers, administrators, etc. to get fired up about the change that take place if CFGs/SRI work is implemented. I feel like there is a need for more efforts to engage interested people in different ways. Social media is significant in sharing information. I have participated in Twitter chats, webinars, Google Hangouts and other virtual platforms that were used to share information and collaborate. These would be great ways to engage a wide audience. I would bring a “Can Do’ spirit to the SRI Board. I truly believe that whatever energy you put out, that is what you will receive and I try to always put out a positive and optimistic outlook on everything. I feel that my experience as a teacher has prepared me for any challenges I may face in this role. The life and work of a teacher changes every year and at a fast pace. I am accustomed to change and understand that it is necessary if we desire to move forward. Being a teacher and a fellow has taught me to be extremely flexible and to go with the flow. I have learned that things may not always go according the plan, but that everything that happens has purpose. This is a strength that I feel would be helpful as a board member. I have great communication and presentation skills. I also know how to work and collaborate remotely because I have to do it as a fellow. I feel that I have many attributes that would make me an asset to the board.
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