New School Year Excitement at Fever Pitch!

Thanks to clear leadership, innovative planning, and unprecedented support teachers are more excited about the school year than ever.

Written by Greg O’Loughlin, Classroom Teacher and Founder of The Educators’ Cooperative

After a summer of unprecedented devotion of city-wide time, resources, and attention, teachers all over Nashville are expressing more of an excitement to return to the classroom than ever before. The labor, creativity, and resilience they brought to their work in order to survive and thrive last school year were all honored, captured, and analyzed to help shape a safe and effective path forward for this year.

One teacher said, “After working more than two times the expected number of hours last year to ensure that my students felt safe and connected, it feels really good knowing that all that extra effort wasn’t in vain and was a key part of a plan for moving forward in a manner that supports the health and well-being of teachers and students alike.”

A recent survey by Nashville-based non-profit, The Educators’ Cooperative showed that more than half of the area’s teachers considered leaving the classroom last year and more than 80% felt isolated in a manner that was detrimental to their year. In response to the release of these findings, political leaders and education leaders came together to center the experience of teachers and students to design solutions to predictable and harmful challenges posed by another year of covid response.

Another teacher said, “The worst case scenario would have been to pretend like last year didn’t happen, like we can go back to the classroom this year without the time, support, and facilitation needed to ensure that the lessons learned were not lost to politics or a lack of leadership. The countless hours my colleagues and I spent redesigning our lessons and assessments would have been all for naught had we not had such an overwhelming community response to ensure that teachers did not find themselves risking losing the impact of any of the essential learning we earned last year. It feels good to know that we are working in a city where the safety of students and teachers is centered and seen as an important part of any plan to create a path forward in our classrooms and schools.”

Another teacher added, “It must have been really tempting for many leaders to take the easy way out and blame such scapegoats as “learning loss” and “failing test scores” as reliable indicators of anything that happened last year. It is so relieving to know that the people in charge of what happens in our schools rejected that framing and instead, centered abundance and creativity. What we all experienced last year was truly an acceleration of advanced informal education — such a rare and incredible gift, when you hold it right. When we start there, we see so many ways to catalog, examine, and build off of learning and mastery of skills that for far too long seemed well out of reach. Rather than hold arbitrary standards and assessments that are inflexible in the face of global health emergencies, it feels good to center the learning, critical thinking skills, hearts, and minds of students, and to really dig in to working together to ensure those outcomes from our students.”

At the time of publication, many teachers reported an inability to get to sleep because they were so excited about the many clear indicators of empathy, care, thoughtfulness, and innovation they saw everywhere around them.

This article was written in an alternative universe where safety, common sense, creativity, and empathy are the foundation upon which decisions are made by local leaders. Is sad that this is simply fantasy. We can do so much better and our students and teachers deserve us to try.

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.

Please visit educatorscooperative.com for more information and to sign up for our newsletter.

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