Change Doesn’t Always Start With The Young

It is been a long while since I could honestly say that I was impressed by a member of central office staff, but we have a consulting teacher for secondary literacy here who I believe deserves recognition. Her name is Mrs. Williams and her job is to support all of the middle and high school English teachers in the county. That is 12 schools worth of English teachers that she is in charge of supporting, through instructional strategies, interventions, data tracking, etc… I had met her as an English teacher, but I was only tangentially part of the department, so I did not have too much interaction with her.

There are two reasons that I was so impressed today. Yesterday, I called her to ask a question related to software the school uses for data tracking for an online professional development course that I was creating for my staff. She didn’t have the answer on hand, but she volunteered to go look for it. Not only did she send me the files I needed to learn how to correctly operate the software necessary to help my staff within the hour, but she came by personally today (30 min drive from central office) to make sure that I both received it and was able to understand it. From talking with other English teachers and former English teachers, this level of commitment is not out of the norm for.

Part 2 of the story is a much more philosophical shift. As a librarian, I have not and most likely will not plan a single lesson this year that is not collaborative. I have had great success being able to work with teachers to jointly create effective lessons. Unfortunately, from what the academic coach and others have said, this is not the case outside of the library. Many teachers are holding on to what’s theirs. They create and refuse to help. They refuse to accept help when they need it. I admittedly have refused help in previous years if I am being honest, but I eventually had a revelation about it. Why are we here? The general answer is to help children. If that is true, then it is not about me, you, or any other teacher. If we really want to help children, we will accept help when we need it, not because we want to feel like we cannot do it on our own, but because the students benefit when others help us. Also, in case you were not aware, no one can effectively teach in isolation. Teaching children is a group effort and we all do a better job when we work together on it. If we really want to help children, and not just the 125 in our classrooms, then we need to help others. Every teacher has something that they know, either in content, relationship, or technique, that can help someone else. By choosing to withhold that, we choose to intentionally not help children.

Mrs. Williams came down partly because she had heard about the research sequences that we had collaborated on with the junior English classes from both the teachers and the students. She understands that, as librarians, we have to model sharing and collaboration for both our staff and our students, came to ask us to add the Creative Commons license to materials that we share with teachers and to explain what it meant. cc.logo.circleFor those unfamiliar with the idea, the Creative Commons provides a licensing framework for how other people can use your work. For example, if I have not been explicitly clear, this site is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License. If you break it down, it means that anyone can take what I have created and use it if they provide credit. That is the basic Creative Commons License. I have modified mine so that people are also allowed to modify it if they provide credit and also share it with others. Lastly, they cannot be using it to make money commercially. Anyone can use my work as long as they follow the conditions outlined above.

In my experience, most of the people in education who have experience with licensing are in educational technology since it is more common. This shows me that she is staying at the forefront of her profession. The consulting teacher recognized that the teachers who are having the most trouble sharing at the moment are younger teachers who are very protective of their intellectual property, even if they have never hear the term intellectual property. Sitting down with teachers, explaining the benefits of sharing, and then also explaining the benefits of licensing their work. That way, the teachers begin to feel more comfortable realizing that they will get credit. I am very impressed not only because she knew about Creative Commons licensing, but because one of the key factors for positive change in our district is not just the stereotypical young teacher but a person who has been in education nearly as long as I have been alive and is still working for the good of all, not the good of a few or of herself.

If you want to learn more about Creative Commons and what it can do for you, go to this website. As a favor to her, everything that I create in regards to lessons, writing, etc…, unless I otherwise expressly state it, is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 license; anything that I create in the realm of software or code, is licensed under the GNU General Public License (GPL). To me, both of these mean that you can take anything that I have done and redistribute it or change, just make sure that if you change it, you still share it back with others. Pay it forward.
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

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