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What I learned: When teachers become leaders, education wins

The Kenan Fellows Program for Teacher Leadership is a program to develop high-quality teacher leaders focused on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). Members of the program share their reflections this week in the "What I Learned" series.

As a member of the current cohort of Kenan Fellows, the door to new leadership possibilities has been opened for me, offering benefits to my career already visible just a few months into the program. Teacher leadership is for any and all teachers who are passionate about advocating for their students, their schools, and the field of education as a whole.

As a Kenan Fellow, I am growing as a teacher leader through opportunities to participate in high quality, relevant professional development. As a direct result, I now sit on new committees at my school. The Fellowship and the knowledge I am gaining from being a Fellow are enhancing my credibility at my school and beyond. Being a fourth year teacher, these opportunities give me hope I am already making a real difference in my community and my field.

My background is in literacy, and I have my masters as a Reading Specialist. Through my experience as a Kenan Fellow, which focuses on STEM and leadership, I am expanding my expertise and increasing my value at my school. I want to make myself a well-rounded educator, which is why I applied to be a Kenan Fellow. This has changed me as a teacher because it has made me more confident in teaching STEM subjects. I feel that I am able to better engage my students in science and math by making real-world applications as much as possible while putting my own literacy spin on things. Getting used to taking a more scientific approach to lesson planning and teaching was difficult but has enabled me to become a better teacher for my students. Through this experience and expanding my horizons, I saw that I need to engage my students in a variety of ways.

I was able to thrive in my externship at LORD Corporation through hands-on learning, and this was eye-opening for me. LORD makes adhesives and my externship experience was working in a lab and trying to understand variables in relation to an adhesive. My externship changed my approach to lesson planning and teaching to see how I can make learning accessible to all of my students, regardless of strengths or weaknesses. While my background is not in chemistry, I was able to succeed in an externship revolving around chemistry. I want my students to have the same success in the classroom, and my time as a Kenan Fellow is showing me how to help my students have that success. I learned through my externship at LORD experience that it is okay to fail. This is a big lesson that I am actively teaching my students now.

I want them to see that no matter what your area of expertise, or what you’re good at, you can be successful at whatever you put your mind to.

Kenan Fellows push the envelope and are innovative educators. This is one aspect that really drew me to want to be a Kenan Fellow. Trying to push the envelope myself has allowed me to grow as a teacher leader. The fellowship has empowered me to share what I am doing in my classroom and bring others in as well. I want my classroom to be a gateway for new ideas, for both my students and myself. I truly believe that becoming a Kenan Fellow has changed me as an educator forever, showing me that extraordinary teachers can do extraordinary things.

At the same time, the Fellowship allowed me to model what a teacher leader looks like to those in my internship experience as well. These professionals saw the value of investing in educators and the power of helping cultivate teacher leaders. As a conduit between the education and corporate communities, I believe our roles as teacher leaders may be the Fellowship’s strongest and most visible outcome. I am creating a partnership between the Kenan Fellows and my school community. I am forging another between my internship company and the school community by hosting their representatives to highlight how my work with their company directly impacts students.

The Kenan Fellowship consistently demonstrates the value of creating teacher leaders. The leadership opportunities being provided to me are astounding. I feel more valued by and invested in my field than ever, illustrating the simple truth: when teachers become leaders, the field of education wins.

Carson Anderson

Carson Anderson is a 4th year teacher who teaches 4th grade in Cary, North Carolina. She is a current Kenan Fellow who is passionate about creating life long learners through her dynamic instruction.