MƒA and The Teachers on Fire Podcast

I was a recent guest on the Teachers on Fire podcast to talk about the MƒA community and share my experiences as a MƒA Master Teacher. It was cool, I enjoyed it. I was joined by two other MƒA teachers, Vielca Anglin and Jude Julien, along with the president of MƒA, John Ewing. Our talk was an hour long (streamed live here) and nowhere near sufficient to convey the power of the MƒA community. That said, because I can, I’m going to continue the conversation here, with my ever-listening keyboard.

What is my biggest takeaway from the last eight years as a MƒA teacher? Without a doubt all that I’ve learned about teacher leadership. At the most straightforward level, I have led workshops at my school and given talks at local, regional, and national conferences because of ideas that the MƒA community helped incubate and sharpen over the years. But in addition to learning how to lead professional development, I’ve also helped create summer conferences for other teachers to lead workshops. I’ve given a TED Talk-style presentation. With the support of MƒA, I’ve even been a yearlong mentor for an early-career teacher. All of these experiences have contributed greatly to my growth as an educator. Maybe for other teachers these types of experiences are standard, but not for me. Ten years ago I’m not sure I would’ve believed I could do any them at a respectable level. MƒA changed all that.

The beauty of MƒA is that it puts teachers in positions to lead and learn from each other, then steps back and watches the magic happen. I think MƒA can do this because they ambitiously and unapologetically trust teachers. That’s the key. And this trust is baked into everything they do. It shows up in how they talk about teachers and the teaching profession, yeah, but it also manifests itself organizationally, structurally, and financially. Many noble people and organizations wax poetic about how they champion teachers and the teaching profession, but MƒA has the receipts. These receipts are lengthy and filled edge-to-edge with stories just like mine. MƒA is doing the work.

The Teachers on Fire podcast itself is a great example of MƒA’s unyielding and fervent belief in lifting up teachers. Prior to it, I had listened to similar podcasts and panel discussions, but was never invited to participate in one. They just seemed out of my league. So when I was asked to take part by MƒA, and subsequently encouraged by John and MƒA to openly share my experiences, I felt empowered. I felt like an expert. I felt seen. I felt trusted. Undoubtedly, these are feelings that will fuel my continual growth. As a teacher, there’s really nothing more you can ask for.

Interestingly, I think MƒA’s trust in me indirectly influences how I interact with folks in my educational circle, including my students and colleagues. When you’re constantly affirmed, honored, and given autonomy, especially when the system you operate in imparts a very different message to you, these beliefs are easier to bestow upon others. You see their value firsthand. Thinking about my classroom and my practice, I think this is true for me. MƒA has gracefully modeled for me what it means to honor and have sustained professional faith in those around you and, what’s most important, to do it systematically. They have armed me with a capacity to trust, to let go. At it’s core, it’s a willingness and an ability to put others in a position reach their potential and then step back and watch the magic happen.


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