As I grew as a teacher, it became clear that being in the classroom can be a lonely place as one struggles with enacting change. I experienced this loneliness for some years and knew I needed to establish relationships that may become partnerships in the struggle for transformation. This can only happen if we address issues of educational policy, specifically as these policies affect our communities of color. The past few years, I have been working on partnerships and on building my toolkit on educational policy, while also growing as a classroom teacher. As a Teach Plus Texas Policy Fellow and Senior Fellow, I grew my leadership skills and learned about educational policy and advocacy as a teacher. Working with other teachers across the state and with legislative representatives, I have been able to move policy changes forward.
Agent of Change
Within my district, I have worked with leaders to transform the bilingual program by pushing for change, especially as it relates to issues of representation, recruitment, and retention of Latinx teachers.
This interest in the recruitment and retention of teachers of color was and continues to be informed by the work within the Teach Plus Texas Policy Fellowship Teachers of Color working group. After the publication in October 2019 of the Teach Plus report “If You Listen, We Will Stay,” we started working on the dissemination of the report, and the construction of foundational pieces that we use to offer stakeholders tools to transform the situations within their campuses and districts. I was able to offer my teacher voice within a panel discussion on the issue led by Roberto Rodríguez, held at the Teach Plus Teach to Lead conference in Houston. After that, together with other Teach Plus Texas Policy Fellows, we created a workshop for educational and district leaders to help them address issues of representation within recruitment and retention policies and presented it at the Raise Your Hand Texas’ Leadership Conference.
I authored three different op-eds and co-authored a fourth one, dealing with policy issues affecting our students and our educational system. In the past few years, I invited and hosted our state senator in our school, and I hosted a virtual school visit with our Texas State Representative, in which my fifth graders were able to not only listen to him speaking about service, but also interact and ask him questions.
Networks and Connections
In the past few years, I’ve developed relationships within my district and with different organizations and state leaders. Using the strategies and guidance from Teach Plus, I have worked hard to be in the room where decisions are made in order to be part of the process.
For example, working with the Texas Education Agency, I have been a member of two separate committees on Standards, and served as a Lead Reviewer for the Texas Resource Review. Through my relationship with Teach Plus I have learned that these experiences and opportunities are about creating partnerships within these spaces so that fellow teachers and educational leaders can work together to enact change to benefit our students.
Finally, it has been through the workshops and conversations at Teach Plus that I have been able to center advocacy beyond a “complaining” activity, into a “building bridges” activity that leads to change. Working with Teach Plus has transformed my life and reinvigorated my spirit and energy. I have found my voice in the midst of pressures and sometimes pain. Learning from other teachers and advocates I have been able to amplify the voices of my students and their families in the interest of re-defining and transforming equity in education across the state.