Hope Street Group Kentucky Teacher Fellows: Improving Education Policy

[music playing] [noise of a crowd] The Hope Street Group Teacher Fellowship program is all about empowerment. It’s about taking classroom teachers who work with their kids on a daily basis, and giving them the skills and then the opportunities to contribute to the decision-making process. And by having those who are actually implementing policies be a part of the decision-making and the feedback for improvement, you actually end up with better policies that are going to be ultimately better for kids. We were able to take our Fellows, train them, teach them what the system’s going to look like, and then be able to have them go out and spread that to their colleagues around the state, get their feedback and then send those back to the Department to make better decisions, more informed decisions based on actual teacher input. The Hope Street Group is providing an opportunity for educators to have voice regarding policy. So instead of policies being done to a classroom teacher, they’re being created with a classroom teacher. We work in a world where people are making decisions about what we’re doing every day, but they’re making them without the input of people who are affected the most. So I think that teacher voice is crucial in our decision making process. It’s changed my life. Before Hope Street, I didn’t have the credibility for all of the work that I envisioned my profession having. And I think they definitely have added supports and connections that I didn’t have before. Our profession is often thought of as one where, it’s a sort of stepping stone for ambitious people. It’s something that’s not necessarily looked at as an end, as something to achieve to strive for. You know the old adage – those who can’t do teach. So teacher voice is really important because the more teachers we can get out there participating in policy, participating in the conversations that are happening about or around education, the more the profession will be respected. Hope Street Group Fellowship has been the best professional learning experience I’ve had to date. I’ve always done good things in my classroom, but I’ve always been in my classroom. And Hope Street Group forced me to get out and talk to other people and open my eyes to what was going on in other parts of the state and even the nation, and that was really cool. And I’ve just been able to learn from other people, share my experiences and hopefully take that to other people and make them more effective as well. It’s shown me the need to understand policy behind legislation, what’s going on within education, that the… understand all the stakeholders involved. You know, and giving me the passion, and the love. I actually have a voice and things can change. You know, we can work together and make, you know, make a difference within the profession. It is connected me with so many teachers from across the state. And we have shared a lot of experiences, and the networking and just talking to all these different people, and sharing just a wealth of information. It’s been really great. In the teacher world, we typically feel we don’t have a voice. So we spend a lot of our career saying to ourselves and to one another, Oh, this won’t change. This won’t change. So suddenly, you get a voice, and you feel like you have hope, and you want to contribute and it kind of changes your paradigm. So that’s why I teach your voice is important because at the end of the day, you have hope.

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