Our DPS Weekly: Learning from and Leaning on Our Teachers

Sep. 27, 2019
Student smiles while working on schoolwork as a teacher (whose back is to the camera) supports her

Dear DPS Community,

Thirty years ago, I took my first steps in front of a classroom full of sixth graders at Horace Mann Middle School in northwest Denver as I started my career in teaching. And as I began the work of leading that classroom, it didn’t take long for me to learn one of my first lessons: teaching is really hard work. Over time, I learned that I was a better teacher when I could lean on and learn from my teaching colleagues.

All these years later, those lessons still ring true. And now, as I focus on creating a school district where all of our students thrive, I know that our teachers have a lot to say about how we can achieve this vision.

As I shared last week, collaborative teamwork is one of the three foundational cornerstones of our work, along with equity and instructional excellence. All three come together in the classroom, where our teachers interact with our students every day.

With that in mind, I was excited to kick off a new way to connect with our educators through the Superintendent’s Teacher Advisory Council. The council, made of 23 teachers from across DPS, will meet with me and other district leaders once a month throughout the year. We will be able to spend our time on important topics of policy and practice, so that teachers have a seat at the table. This group of equity-focused educators will provide feedback on how we support our students, teachers, leaders and the community. I want to get advice from the educators closest to our kids on how we can best support, clarify, and focus on what’s working and what’s challenging.

The teachers selected for our council represent various grade levels, school structures, regions of the city, classroom experience, and diversity from across DPS. What they share in common is a passion and commitment for public education. During our welcome meeting Monday, we hosted a rich discussion on how we will collaborate together on the mission that binds us.

“It was great to be able to talk relatively openly about our priorities as educators” shared Hayley Breden, a social studies teacher at South High School, one of our council members. “It is nice to not only be listened to, but also truly heard.”

I know we are stronger together, and I look forward to continuing to collaborate with these educators — and all of our teachers throughout DPS — to tap into our best thinking on equity and instructional excellence and our shared commitment to bringing it to every Denver classroom.

Warm regards,