February 6, 2012 | Sign up to receive Teaching Matters
Become a Teaching Ambassador Fellow!
have a set of amazing teachers each year who spend a year with the Department
and help drive our policy discussion…I have come to rely on the Teaching
Ambassador Fellows for their invaluable feedback and their ability to
facilitate dialogue with teachers across the country. - Secretary Arne
According to the Fellows themselves, the Teaching Ambassador
Fellowship is an amazing opportunity for professional development and an
important recognition of teacher leadership in the field... Indeed this is what
it was always intended to be. Our hope is to enhance teachers’ knowledge of
policy and to add this to their classroom expertise to help them lead the kinds
of changes in education that we all hope to see. However, the Fellowship was
also designed to create better partnerships between policy-makers and teachers
and to allow teachers to contribute directly to the work of the Department.
Teaching Ambassador Fellows' purpose is two-fold: they help us get our
programming right from the beginning, and they also inform other teachers,
parents and students about our policies and resources so that they are better
understood and implemented in schools. Fellows give us credibility with a range
of stakeholders around the country, and they represent the millions of smart,
passionate and hard-working teachers in America who go to work every day to
make a difference in the lives of children.
While we hope this Special Edition of "Teaching
Matters" shows the impact that the Fellowship can have on the
special group of teachers who are selected to participate, we here at the
Department know that - by listening to teachers around the country and bringing
those voices back to the work at ED - Fellows have a big impact on us.
Ultimately, the Teaching Ambassador Fellowship program partners the
policy-makers at ED and the teachers in the field in collectively striving to
improve learning opportunities for all students. Please consider applying for
the Teaching Ambassador Fellowship and share the news with all the teacher
leaders you know who might want to partner with us in that endeavor. To access
additional information and the application, click
Teaching Ambassador Fellowship program
TAF Application Virtual Information Session
Join the U.S.
Department of Education’s Teaching Ambassador Fellows on Tuesday, February 7th
at 7pm EST for a one-hour webinar discussion about the Teaching
Ambassador Fellowship program and application process.
To register, please send an email to TeacherFellowship@ed.gov with the subject line: “Webinar.” Please provide questions that you would
like to make sure we address in this email. We will reply with the web
address, log-in, and call-in information for the session.
Ask a Fellow
applying for a Fellowship?
and Classroom Fellows answer questions about the program, the application, and the implications of the Fellowship.
What is it
like to be a Washington Fellow? What is a “typical” day like?
Every day as a Fellow is different. Unlike the predictable
schedule of teaching, each day at ED brings a different meeting, convening, or
event. You may start your day at a senior staff communications meeting where
you learn about the events and initiatives the Secretary and other staff are
participating in. Then, it’s off to a team meeting where you work in a smaller
group with your advisor and colleagues around a particular issue like Early
Learning or Education Technology. Hopefully you have some time to return to
your desk to answer emails, return phone calls, or do some required reading.
Then it’s off to a local school to hold a round-table with a group of teachers
around elevating the teaching profession. Every day at ED brings new
opportunities and lots to do.
- Geneviève DeBose
Why do the
Washington Fellowship? What is the value to you?
As full-time employees of ED, Washington Fellows gain more
in-depth policy knowledge and have greater opportunity to contribute their
ideas and classroom and school experience to ED staff on a regular basis. As
teachers, we are often engrossed in, and consumed with, our everyday important
work on the ground. The Washington Fellowship allowed me to gain a view from
10,000 feet above and really get an inside look at how federal policy is made
and what this means for my work in my district, school and classroom. It has
given me the unique opportunity to see how things on the federal level
translate to the local/state level. Prior to coming here, I was very actively
involved with local and statewide reform efforts, so the Washington Fellowship
has given me the opportunity to ramp up my knowledge of federal policy and gain
a clearer perspective about how all the pieces work together.
- Shakera Walker
Classroom Fellows do?
My role as a Classroom Fellow is to serve as a channel for
educators at all levels to connect to ED. For example, I have presented to my
own district and state on current issues, held round-table discussions and
interviews with educators and educational leaders, traveled to places around
the U.S. to assist the Secretary and other senior ED officials during their
visits, and written blogs about educational issues and my own experiences.
- Sharla Steever
What has been the biggest surprise to you as a Fellow?
By far, the biggest surprise has been the awareness that
teachers really ARE listened to at the federal level. And by this, I
don't just mean the teacher ambassadors. The feedback taken to the
Department from our various round-tables and meetings is taken quite seriously.
Sometimes, people wonder if individuals are really heard at the federal
level. I am convinced that they are not only heard, but their voices are
desired and help mold our educational vision.
- Kareen Borders
Read more answers
from the Fellows to common questions about the Fellowship.
Teachers Want to Lead the Transformation of their Profession
matter. So instead of bashing them, or defending the status quo, let’s
offer schools a deal. Give them the resources to keep good teachers on
the job, and reward the best ones. In return, grant schools
flexibility: To teach with creativity and passion; to stop teaching to
the test; and to replace teachers who just aren’t helping kids learn.”
– President Barack Obama, January 24, 2012, “State of the Union”
In response to the President's State of the Union Address last week, the Washington Fellows weigh in on teachers' desire and need to be at the forefront of what is proving to be a critical turning point in the history of American education. Read more
Once a Fellow, Always a Fellow
While he expected to embark on new frontiers, 2010 Classroom Fellow Steve Owens
never dreamed that participation in the Fellowship would lead to the
exponential growth of his own networks and to his own advanced ability to
effectively “[advocate] in the public interest from a teacher’s
perspective.” The Fellowship is not the peak, but rather the
beginning of a new chapter in teacher leadership. Read more
What is Missing in Teacher Leadership? A Roadmap & Destination
In his most recent blog, 2010 Teaching Ambassador Fellow Patrick Ledesma
discusses the importance of his Fellowship experience as well as the challenges
of expanding one's leadership role as a teacher. Read more
Where Are They Now?
Teachers have come to
the Department to learn, to share, and to lead. After their formal
Fellowship year is over, Fellows continue to lead with new partnerships,
knowledge, and missions. As TAF Director Gillian Cohen-Boyer often says:
"once a Fellow, always a Fellow." Here is a snapshot of what 2008
Fellows have done after their year working with the Department - in schools,
state governments, unions, institutes of higher education, policy advocacy groups,
and professional associations around the country:
Top 5 TAF Quotes
Wisdom from and about Fellows
(Heard by ED)
5. On what Fellows do: “We listen and help educators articulate the perceived and
actual gaps between the intent and impact of policy and take that feedback to
Department policymakers to close them.” (2011 Classroom Fellow in Texas)
4. In sharing the Fellowship
application with colleagues on Facebook:
“It was an amazing year in Washington." (2010
Washington Fellow in California)
3. On the Fellowship experience: “Greatest. Opportunity. Ever.” (2009 Classroom Fellow in South Dakota)
2. On the involvement of Fellows at
an ED technical assistance event:
“I underestimated the positive impact that Fellows would have on the
facilitation of the discussions. Without having a teacher’s voice in the room
to help them keep perspective…this meeting would have taken on a much
different, less 'practical' tone. The only reason we were able to
accomplish everything we wanted to was because of the Fellows.” (Race to the Top Technical Assistance team member)
1. On the importance of including Fellows' voices
on key policy issues: “The Fellows represent some of the best professionals in our
field…Skilled and highly effective educators who have credibility must remain
center to the vital conversations about transformation! Thanks for your
response to the State of the Union!” (Marilynne, on ed.gov blog)
Some of Nation’s Finest Talk About Teaching in Rural America
Recently, the Teaching Ambassador Fellows hosted the newest National
Board Certified teachers for discussions at the White
House and at ED
on the future of the teaching profession. A number of the honorees represented Rural America. During their visit, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Rural Outreach John White caught up with these rural teachers to hear
their stories about teaching in rural America. Read more
Duncan Tells Teachers to Lead the Transformation of Teaching
Washington Fellow and Teach Plus Policy Fellow Alum Shakera Walker
had the opportunity to listen as the Secretary urged the new class of D.C. Teach Plus Fellows to lead their colleagues in rebuilding the teaching profession. Read more
Fellows Recommend Fellow Reading
- From James
Liou: Tokata - Moving Forward in Indian Education. I recommend viewing teacher Sharla
Steever's compelling video on educational issues and opportunities in
South Dakota's American Reservation schools. The highlighted challenges of
balancing perceived federal pressures and tribal educators' desire for
local determination should be required watching for all of us across the
- From Maryann
Woods-Murphy: Labor-Management Collaboration District Case Studies.
If you’ve ever wanted to really understand what Labor-Management
Collaboration looks like at the district level, read
the Ambassador Fellows’ Labor-Management Collaboration District Case
Studies. It’s exciting to read the real stories of 12 districts that have
worked hard to have tough conversations and change practices to ensure
that students succeed. From these fabulous case studies, we learn that
it’s possible and practical to collaborate when all partners “make student
achievement the heart of their relationship.”
- From Genevieve
DeBose: Restructure Time to Transform Teacher Preparation. Feel
like there aren't enough hours in the day to get everything done? You
aren't the only one. 2010 Washington Teaching Ambassador Fellow Linda
Yaron tackles this problem and advocates for a restructuring of time
to transform our profession. Read
to find out what's possible....and sustainable.