2019-2020 was my third year as a Network Fellow with WEPOP. I have had many opportunities in graduate school, and this is among my favorites. Working with WEPOP has a great routine where we meet regularly with fantastic people including WCER staff, network fellows, K-12 teachers and other partners. Together we explore teachers’ roles in policy making and advocacy. It’s a change up from much of my other work, and I find it rewarding and refreshing.
At WEPOP, I coordinate our outreach efforts at regional EdCamps. EdCamps are a cool model of professional development using collaborative organizational methods. There is no real agenda. Anyone who attends can “pitch” a session. Sessions are posted on a master schedule, and attendees go to the sessions of their choice. The sessions themselves are discussion oriented, with no set leadership or structure. This model of distributed leadership leads to thought provoking discussion and in depth learning. They’re informative, invigorating, and way more fun than “sit n git” with powerpoint slides.
At EdCamps, WEPOP pitches sessions about teachers’ role in policy. We usually try to pick a story that has been in the news recently as a touchstone for discussion. This year we focused on dress codes and their disproportionate impact on students of color. We facilitated fascinating discussions at EdCamp Madison and EdCamp Social Justice this winter.
EdCamps are great opportunities to empower teachers as policy makers. Many front line educators are frustrated by the perceived disconnect between what they are expected to do, and the realities they face. Our conversations with teachers help them to develop the vocabulary and policy literacy to more effectively participate in policy making and to advocate for their students. They are also an opportunity to inform our understanding of the interactions of teachers and policy. Our learnings are reflected in a series of policy briefs we are producing, to amplify the voices of teachers in policy decisions.
It’s great to be a part of the WEPOP family, and to work on a team that models both critical thought about policy, but also demonstrates care and compassion for each other. I look forward to the work ahead.