California Teachers Association

March 2017

Issue link: http://educator.cta.org/i/795366

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ink of various ways, large and small, that we might improve education. Innovative school design reforms. Partnerships with community organizations. District, com- munity, university partnerships for historical study. Parent outreach and education. Robust teacher evaluations and peer evaluations, with support for new or struggling teachers. Mathematics competitions. Global education initiatives. Outdoor education. Arts in the community. Union activity. If you're thinking "union activity" doesn't seem to fit in that list, consider this: Every other item on the list describes one or more initiatives endorsed, fiscally sup- ported, or carried out by state or local teacher unions in California. If that fact surprises you, then this chapter deserves your closest attention. I learned about many of these activities through my involvement with a state- level union organization, the Institute for Teaching (IFT), a nonprofit branch of the California Teachers Associa- tion (CTA) dedicated to strength-based, teacher-driven change in public education. IFT grants, totaling close to $1 million from 2014 to 2016, funded many projects, some of which are described in this chapter. IFT also supports several teacher think tanks in various regions of the state, work I've been involved in for several years. Inspired Teaching, Thriving Schools How unions work with schools, districts to improve education Text and photos by David B. Cohen V eteran high school English teacher and CTA member David B. Cohen spent the 2014-15 school year visiting public schools throughout California, discovering how students flourish when teachers capture the spark of curiosity and inspiration. e result is Capturing the Spark: Inspired Teaching, riving Schools, which was published at the end of last year. In the book, Cohen takes readers into more than 60 schools. Among other things, he chronicles how teachers blend traditional and innovative practices, how quality teacher training makes a difference in a teacher's career, and what we can learn from teachers who create and lead new schools. Cohen also looks at what unions are doing to improve education, and writes of the many positive outcomes he found. e following are excerpts, edited and condensed, from Chapter 9, "Unions and Education: Working Together to Improve Teaching and Learning." During research for Capturing the Spark, Adam Ebrahim was a member of the Fresno Teachers Association and a teacher leader in CTA's Instructional Leadership Corps. He now works with Collaboration in Common, a platform that organizes professional learning communities in California. V blend traditional and innovative practices, how quality teacher training makes a difference in a teacher's career, and what we can learn from teachers who create and lead new schools. 39 March 2017

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