Most of us can remember a teacher from our time in school that heavily influenced us. Citing courageous educators as inspiration, policymakers displayed outstanding support for education policy across party lines this legislative session. At The Succeeds Prize celebration last year, Colorado Succeeds members and CEOs shared their personal stories and explained what a quality education means to them. Further, Colorado Succeeds partnered with America Achieves last year to support the Educator Voice Fellowship, highlighting the importance of educators building a new vision for teaching and learning.
The debate around educators then is not whether we should support teachers, but how.
In the most recent publication Agility Explained, Colorado Succeeds explores how we can reach the goals outlined in Vision 2030 and transform the education system in Colorado over the next 10 years. We understand that educators and education leaders are a key pillar to change. Specifically, we will need agile educators to lead the charge.
The new economy demands a different skill set. Agile educators – teachers who embrace lifelong learning and are willing to adapt to the needs of their students – deserve state support that allows them to be flexible. Colorado Succeeds recently spoke with a few teachers who have noted policies that have helped them in their career:
“Here in Montrose, I started out teaching how I always had, and when the principal came in to do her first evaluation, she said ‘your kids are compliant but not engaged.’ When she put it like that, it made sense to me. It made me think about how to create a dynamic classroom, will they be silent or will they be engaged? This is not attacking your teaching style but helping you grow. She used [the guidelines of SB 191 – Colorado’s teacher evaluation law] as a coaching moment. I did not feel attacked or targeted and we built a relationship through the dialogue,” said Melissa Good, 5th-grade teacher at Montrose Oak Grove Elementary School.
“I am a huge fan of the teachers teaching teachers model. It has been a great experience for me. I have been a coach going into classrooms and have had many come into my own classroom. For me, it helped a lot, especially in the first couple of years,” says Missy Shaw, 7th-grade teacher at Pagosa Middle School. “You can’t expect us to teach every single standard perfectly, but not give us opportunities to receive feedback consistently. Teachers want that. Good teachers want feedback.”
Through The Succeeds Prize – in partnership with mindSpark Learning and 9NEWS – we have been able to recognize and reward schools and educators who are reinventing how they run their classrooms. Uplifting innovation in education allows us to fund what is working and inspire change throughout the system. We must realize that the saying “You cannot be what you cannot see,” applies to adults as well. Supporting teachers in their discovery of what is working and connecting them to one another is important.
“Upskilling” has become the buzzword of the day, and who better to lend their expertise and perspective on current workforce needs than business leaders? The Educator Voice Fellowship seeks to empower educators to add out-of-school relevance to their classrooms. Working with industry and community partners, 15 Fellows are now ready to test the “performance tasks” that they’ve created – pioneering a new way to help students develop essential skills.
Ultimately, by engaging the Colorado business community through policy, practice, and philanthropy, we strive to support the creation of agile learners, educators, and systems ready to meet the needs of an evolving workforce.