The EdCo Impact: How a Space for Support and Collaboration is Helping Educators

In a recent series of interviews, Amy Nystrand, Program Director of the Educators’ Cooperative asked members, “Why did you join the Educators’ Cooperative and what is one way it has helped you during this global crisis?” and the answer was validation of the incredible work that happens when teachers come together.

Ada Collins, Tusculum Elementary Math Coach: 

I had gotten an email from my principal at the time, and I was just kind of in a transition time, I was switching from one school to another school, so I didn’t feel like I had that teacher community or that professional community that I could rely on and connect with, so I think that was a huge draw for me; knowing that this is like a collaborative community, and I can actually talk to teachers that are in Metro, but also are in other schools, in other districts. I thought that was really neat.  How has it helped me?  I wouldn’t be here without it. I don’t even know how to put into words what it’s done, except it’s definitely gotten me out of my comfort zone.  The part of me that naturally listens, that has helped me build relationships that are in independent schools, and teachers that I would have never met before if I hadn’t joined.  And then I just love when we do get together, whether it’s through the Coffee meetings, or through more formal, big events.  It’s just so neat to hear ideas professionally, but even more so, just the realness and the conversation, and knowing the struggles you have are very similar to the ones that I have.  And we’re not just talking about I can’t teach my kids to multiply.  We’re talking about more broad, just big picture things, systems in place, in education, that aren’t necessarily things that we can control right away, but it is something I think we can discuss and have conversations about. So that’s what I really love, of course getting classroom ideas and teaching ideas, but also having those deeper conversations.

Katie Douglas, Assistant Head of School and Pre-K Teacher at Episcopal School of Nashville:

When I moved here 6 years ago I had taught Kindergarten in Memphis for 18 years at the same school in the same classroom, and I totally had my village. I knew my people, I knew my teachers, my kids had all started at that school and gone through. We were invested in this school community.  When we moved here I wasn’t gonna teach initially, and so instead of me and my three girls all going to school together every day, one was going to the elementary school, one was going to the middle school, one was headed to the high school.  We just couldn’t find our footing, and I kept searching for my people.

I went to one of the EdCo workshops, EdCamp, and I was like, “Here they are!  I found them.” So I immediately looked into applying to be a part of Cohort 4. So excited to find the people that I’ve been looking for, and it’s really been great, because I have reached out to different people that I met even, some special ed teachers that I knew to get their input on kids that I had or situations that I had.  

It’s fun to go to see them around and they say, “oh, how’s that kid?” you know in Critical Friends, “how’s he doing?” And just to know that people really listened and invested in what was going on with me, and that there are people that I can reference and have an opinion I respect and have a place to go. I always love getting on Twitter or Facebook and reading Greg’s love letters, you know, his support, and everything he puts out there, it just helps me feel valued I think.  

Luke Johnson, 9th and 12th grade English teacher at Battleground Academy in Franklin:

I joined EdCo because my friend, Gracie Basset, raved about it, and because I had been feeling I guess the guilt of teaching at a private institution, like being at a private school knowing I’m entering into kind of a world of privilege, and I think the opportunity to have a structured, meaningful discourse with teachers from all of these different sectors of education.  One, it made me extra grateful for all the extra resources that we have, and two it sort of creates this, like it ups the ante, it’s like well you have all of these tools at your disposal what are you going to do to make sure that you’re using them.  It’s like Tony Morrison, right, “if you’re free you have to free somebody else”, so it made me much more aware of what’s happening at other schools, and also, just in terms of meaningful connections, I think of the people who did EdCo that I now see at Cross Country meets, it’s comforting as someone who moved to this area to now have teachers at other schools that I kind of know, in a way that I always felt that my colleagues had, you know like they’d say, oh I know Bill over at so-and-so school, to now have that, where you kind of feel like Nashville got smaller, the teaching community got smaller, which is awesome. 

The Educators’ Cooperative is a non-profit organization that provides a professional learning community for K-12 teachers. Created for teachers by teachers in 2016, EdCo provides professional development and support for educators to collaborate across sectors, disciplines, and career stages. EdCo aims to revolutionize teacher development and leadership by focusing on the essential agency, autonomy, and common ground all teachers share. EdCo is based in Nashville, Tennessee with a reach far beyond that physical location and potential for replication in communities throughout the nation. When educators collaborate, the future of education is greater than the sum of its parts.   

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