I once read that the Chief Operating Officer of Facebook Sheryl Sandburg stated, “Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence and making sure it lasts even in your absence.”
My goal as a teacher leader has always been about giving power and encouragement to other educators, to help them find their voice and use those skills to bring impactful positive change to the profession. My time as the first active teacher to serve as an ex officio member of the Kentucky Board of Education (KBE) gave me just that opportunity. Now, it’s time to share this experience with another teacher leader.
Applications are open for the next nonvoting teacher member of the KBE. To be selected as the teacher member, the applicant must be employed on a full-time basis by a Kentucky public school district in a position for which Education Professional Standards Board certification is required, not employed in an administrative role and must reside in Kentucky’s 6th Congressional District.
Interested applicants can found more information on the KBE webpage. Applications are due March 7 at 5 p.m. ET.
For me, being an active teacher on the KBE was about representing all educators and school employees, influencing policy and working with people who may or may not have shared my same ideologies.
Effectively representing colleagues is more about communication than it is having a voice. There are 40,000 plus teachers across the Commonwealth and even more school employees and administrators. I felt having a voice was important, but only if I used my voice to speak for the wants and needs of everyone else. Sometimes that meant speaking up for something with which I may or may not have always agreed. I had to come to terms that it wasn’t about me, it was about the profession as a whole.
The best way to ensure you are speaking for the majority and not yourself is to build rapport and trust. Communication is key, a vital process to being successful during your term on the KBE.
I found that communication mostly entailed education policy and legislation. Understanding how the two influence and impact the profession, the classroom and our students was something I enjoyed. This required many hours of research, analysis and discussions with those people most deeply involved in creating the policies and legislation.
During my time on the board, I had the privilege of working with the best the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) had to offer and with numerous legislators, association leaders and other government officials. Developing those working relationships was beneficial to the role and the work.
Sometimes I found those I needed to work with the most didn’t always hold the same beliefs, nor did they always have the same ideas on what was best for our public education system, educators or our students. Being able to set aside differences to discuss and decide how to find common ground was the most important character trait I had to learn. I found it sometimes difficult, but always important that I share the thoughts and feelings of my colleagues with the members of the board, legislators and the KDE employees.
My time on the KBE has been informative, eye opening and the most amazing professional experience. If you are a teacher who believes in leadership from the classroom, wants to understand more about education policy and views yourself as a change agent, then you should apply to be the next active teacher appointed to the Kentucky Board of Education.
This position is a vital part of being a lifelong learner and a teacher leader. You will impact education policy, finances and legislation during your year of service. Most of all, you will walk away knowing you represented and positively impacted the life and the profession of thousands of amazing educators from across Kentucky.