The Antidote to the National Virus of Division

Lately, national conversations around education and educators have focused on struggle and conflict. So many posts and articles point fingers–at students, at teachers, at communities. Blame has gone viral and the divisions blame creates are contagious and weaken our ability to make change. To fight debilitating infection, we must build collective strength in our local networks and communities.
This morning, I’m filled with hope after the Integrity, Professionalism, and Leadership HTWP conference we put on at UT yesterday. The strengths we have built through connectivity and collaboration were evident through each session.

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I am still beaming with pride in the Bastrop teachers I’ve been working with this year. Our Choice and Voice #WeAreLRNG grant team presented their work to teachers from more than half-dozen Austin area districts. I got video clips of their conversations and their participants’ reactions. My worlds collided as my HTWP colleagues got to experience the work that the team and I have been steeped in out in Bastrop this past year.
Click here to access links to teachers’ digital documentation of their units of study.
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Sharing this work publicly highlighted the strengths of students and teachers and the power of going public.
Much of my work in Bastrop inspired me to start a collaborative of parents and teachers across the Travis HS Vertical Team. My daughter, Maya, will start kindergarten at Becker Elementary next year and Fritz, in another year or two. Becker is one of the elementary schools that feeds into Travis High School, making it one of about 8 schools that send students on up to Fulmore and Mendez Middle Schools that then feed into Travis High School. There are many strengths in these feeder schools that I hope to identify, celebrate, and highlight more in the community to increase the sense of solidarity and pride in our schools and to retain more of our students who, at times, choose to transfer out to charters or magnet schools after elementary.
This semester, teachers and parents from 7 campuses have met monthly in the Travis High School Library to connect and build our shared values and mission: to create connections and build solidarity between our Travis VT schools and with the community by identifying, celebrating, and amplifying our strengths. Yesterday, in another session at our HTWP conference, my HTWP colleague, Barbara McKinnon, represented our Nuestras Escuelas Collaborative in a session on how study groups can help teachers bring our work outside the walls of our classrooms. Read our Collaborative’s first blog post and learn more about our mission and how you can get involved!
Yesterday, in her opening, Corinna Green spoke about how we can reach our spheres of influence. Kerry Alexander closed the day with time for us to network–or work to build the net that supports us.
Today, I feel a sense of hope in where we are headed in our schools. And as long as we work to identify and amplify strength into our spheres of influence, our nets will continue to spring us into positive collective action.

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