At the high school where I teach, a placard is displayed in every classroom with the teacher’s name, room number, picture, and what classes he or she teaches. Mine looks much like everyone else’s, but instead of listing “English 3, Honors English 3, and English as a Second Language” on my placard, I requested that it simply say “Lead Learner.” After all, isn’t that what you’d want from a teacher who seeks to inspire learning in his own students? Coming across as the “sage on the stage” is not the most effective way to help others learn new information. Students need to figure some things out on their own, make mistakes, and learn from them.
I credit the book Teach Like a Pirate by Dave Burgess for inspiring my shift to a growth mindset. I suppose it has always been there, but it certainly laid dormant, and I taught my students how I was taught in high school. This book, combined with a shift in the English curriculum from a list of itemized skills to more general skills that require depth of thought, and a new teacher emerged--one who doesn’t have all of the answers; one who will learn with my students; one who is open to doing anything in the classroom if it will help my students master the content. During her keynote address at the LEAD Conference, a statewide education conference that I presented at in October of last year, Dr. Candice McQueen said that the most effective principals--the ones who truly affect change--know how to ask the right questions (and, presumably, listen to, and act upon the answers).
I take the same approach in my classroom, and I hope I am awarded the opportunity to bring this mentality to the Coffee County Commission. Despite living in Coffee County for over a decade, I still have much to learn about how the county operates. It is not in my DNA to join the Commission with a slew of preconceived notions on how to make this county better. I simply plan to listen to my constituents, and to the citizens of Coffee County, and make informed decisions for the betterment of everyone--especially the children.
We all want Coffee County to thrive in the future, and the absolute best way to do that is to raise great citizens. I have two daughters who attend public schools in Coffee County, and as a teacher at Coffee County High School, I work with over a hundred teenagers every single year. However, I have come to realize that I can only do so much from these two roles to help the children of this county. The cycle of adults going in and out of jail needs to be broken because they unintentionally pass it on to their kids who continue the cycle. I see an unfortunate situation where kids have no place to hang out after school. Granted, the school systems are doing their part in offering many after-school activities, but the public schools can only do so much. Additionally, the sheer number of homeless children in this county is staggering. How can we reasonably expect children to pay attention and learn in school and be productive citizens in society when so many do not have a permanent home to sleep in every night? I don’t have solutions to these problems, but I would love the opportunity to work with others who do have ideas on how we can help the children of this county, and then be able to act on their solutions.
One other thing that this “Lead Learner” would like to improve in this county is communication. Sure, citizens have the option to come to the County Commission meetings or to go to http://www.coffeecountytn.gov/213/County-Commission and look up the minutes from each meeting, but everyone lives busy lives. I completely understand. That’s why I have set up a Facebook page, which you can find at https://www.facebook.com/CCDistrict3Commish/. If elected to the County Commission, I plan on using this page to communicate with the public. I will post questions on there and seek feedback from the community, and I will offer explanations on why I voted as I did. My Facebook page will serve as another layer of transparency that I think the public needs and deserves. Going forward, I would greatly appreciate any support that I can receive in my endeavor to become a Coffee County Commissioner!