Jessica Pitts is a middle school English language arts teacher from Little Rock, AR and a member of the 2013 LearnZillion Dream Team. This post was first published May 24, 2013.
I have recently had the opportunity to be in the presence of some really great educators working on amazing things. I was able to attend the LearnZillon TeachFest in San Francisco and an Achieving By Changing Curriculum Huddle with the APSRC (Arkansas Public School Resource Center) in my home state. Attending both of these conferences was so inspiring and motivating because it gave me the opportunity to be a part of a larger community of educators with the sole purpose of improving student learning.
It has been so great to meet people in my home state of Arkansas that had the same need and want for a community of passionate teachers that I found at TeachFest. All of the teachers that I met were excited to hear about my experience with LearnZillion. I found myself repeatedly saying, “It was one of the best weekends of my life.” I explained to everyone that the best part was meeting so many intelligent, creative, and most of all, passionate teachers! Before attending TeachFest, I was nervous that I would feel inferior because I am only a third year teacher, but everyone I met was so welcoming and willing to share their knowledge. Through hard work and collaboration, we all became a community by the Saturday night dance party. I will never forget dancing to “Don’t Stop Believing” and “Living on a Prayer” on a tiny dance floor with 200 other teachers. That moment was definitely a perfect moment for me. I couldn’t stop thinking about how we were all working towards the same goal, and as long as we helped each other and refused to give up, we would all succeed.
One comment from my time at the Achieving By Change Huddle that stood out to me was from a teacher who has been teaching for a while. She said, “I didn’t know that teachers did this!” She was referring to working together to build the best units and lesson plans we can for our students. In that moment, I realized how fortunate I was to have attended these two conferences in the same week. Collaboration is what teachers need so desperately. We need to feel like we are a part of the solution. Just as we have found through research that our students need to be given the space to create, so do teachers, and we create better as a team.
All of these experiences have helped me to realize that we are experiencing a really great shift in education. We are building a community of educators with the overall purpose of being the best we can for our students! I am so happy and grateful to be a part of education right now, and I can’t wait to see the results that we produce as a community of educators.