Commentary

NTC Symposium Day 2: Grow + Teach +Lead

By Tracy Kremer, New Teacher Center Director of Communication

Since the last day of our 19th Annual Symposium on Teacher Induction landed on Valentine’s Day, it was only fitting that Angela Maiers — author, educator, speaker and founder and CEO of Choose2Matter — kicked off her morning keynote with a heartfelt message: you matter. Later in the day, Superintendent of Miami-Dade County Public Schools Alberto Carvalho posed a striking question at the start of his keynote: How do you ignite passion for teaching and learning in others?

It is vital for educators to understand they matter, so they can help students know they matter,  Angela asserted in her keynote, viewable here. She shared that if “we do not come to our work, the most important work in the world of the world, from a place of worthiness, we cannot teach, we cannot lead, and we cannot do what we were born to do: which is change lives and change the world.” Angela then asked each person to turn to the person next to them, exchange names, and tell each other that they matter.

This simple interchange strengthened her resolve that “we need to know that people in our presence notice us, value us, and see essentialness in us.” The importance of “mattering,” she noted, is not about inspiration or motivation, but about educators’ deepest responsibility and duty to stand with students and people in their full worthiness. She emphasized the significance of everyone recognizing teachers are all human beings first, and educators second. “Kids don’t want perfect,” Angela stated, “they want presence.” To be present, educators have to recognize their individual worth and understand that they matter. Near the end of her morning keynote, Angela had everyone close their eyes as she recited the “You Matter” manifesto: “You matter, you are enough, you have influence, you are a genius and have a contribution to make. You have a gift others need. It will be your actions that define your impact, you are change. You matter.”

Alberto Carvalho’s afternoon keynote helped close out the 2017 Symposium with a bang. We need to “hoist students up to see a better horizon then where they currently live,” he said, with urgency in his voice. As an immigrant from Portugal, who lived in dramatic poverty and had epilepsy and seizures as a child, Alberto knows just how important this is. He shared with attendees how he went from having the harsh concrete as his mattress and the stars as his blanket, to now being Superintendent of Miami-Dade schools, and founder and principal of iPrep Academy.

When he first stepped into the role of Superintendent in 2008, he said the district was financially and academically bankrupt. Alberto shared how he took the opportunity of a crisis to shake things up and turn things around. Through the Miami-Dade school district example, Alberto made it understood that to achieve better education for all, we must have the courage to “reinvent our public schools into a better version of us.” Today, he said, Miami-Dade schools are full of leaders who are data-driven and compassionate, who understand culture and pedagogy, and who inspire and support teachers to continuously improve. He urged those in the audience to have the courage to stand in the face of adversity and fear and speak, fight, for those who are often too fragile. If public education could save him, he pondered, then there is no reason why, regardless of zip code, income or race, every student can’t achieve and succeed.

Thank you to everyone who attended and participated in this year’s Symposium. We are glad that we could all come together to listen and talk about how we can Grow + Teach + Lead. We hope to see you again next year!

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Kamilah Jones

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